Busting The Bikeshare Bubble: Understanding Transit Integration with an Emerging Mode

Busting The Bikeshare Bubble: Understanding Transit Integration with an Emerging Mode
Busting The Bikeshare Bubble: Understanding Transit Integration with an Emerging Mode
By Dan Suraci

Bike share is relatively new to the transportation world and presents significant opportunities for first and last mile connections to transit. Many agencies have woven bike share into their transit networks, adding convenient connections and customer services.

The flexibility and responsiveness of bike share represents a useful tool to fill gaps in a service area. The USDOT’s Bureau of Transportation Statistics reports that roughly 86 percent of bike-share stations in the United States are located close to some mode of scheduled transit service; three-quarters of these locations are located within a block of a bus stop.

Bike share is a rapidly emerging industry. With new technologies, operating structures and competition, the bike-share market is changing so fast that current assumptions and lessons may be too limited to anticipate exactly how transit agencies can and should plan to integrate bike share in the future. Transit agencies need to actively monitor industry trends as they consider new approaches leverage bikeshare to optimize customer mobility. For those new to the mode, here are some of the basics:

What does it look like:

Most established bike-share systems in North America and Europe operate under all or mostly public ownership, funding and control, with a single system in place for a defined geographic area. Customers go to designated docks to find and return bikes available from a fleet. Bikes are parked at “smart docks” where customers unlock the bike after paying with a credit card at a kiosk or using an app.

Dockless bike-share programs use “smart bikes” that are self-locking; substantial infrastructure for an electronic station is not required. They are GPS-enabled so customers can use an app or website to locate a bike wherever it’s parked.

How can transit incentivize bikeshare

Farecard interoperability facilitates easy transitions for customers between transit and bike share stations.

Joint marketing programs and fare incentives between bike share operators and transit providers can help encourage connections and provide additional value to transit customers.

How do we make this work?

Given the usual single system under public oversight, transit settings are typical locations for bike-share stations. Public entities work together to support the placement and infrastructure. Depending on local experience and perception, the public may or may not support the use of public funds or public space for bike share. Two newer elements are redefining the original bike-share model, posing new opportunities and challenges for use with transit.

What is changing in the marketplace?

Private companies have surged into the market, offering to provide bike-share equipment and services at no public cost. In this model, multiple companies can operate simultaneously in a competitive environment, much like car share and ride-hailing companies. The companies set their pricing, type of bike, distribution, and marketing. Meanwhile, cities, campuses and property owners establish the regulations, if required. They develop permit conditions to regulate safety, insurance, indemnification, maximum number of bikes, parking locations, data-sharing, expectations for responsiveness to problems, fees, and other matters considered in the public interest.

For more information on establishing dialogue on multimodal transportation at your download the guide for bicycle and Transit Integration today.