Private Funds Launch Bikeshare Program

With Economic Development in mind, businesses have launched a public bikesharing program in Cleveland


What Happened?

Cleveland recently launched a bikesharing program throughout the city that will be funded by a private bikesharing company rather than by the city. This is the first privately funded bikesharing program in the country, and the investors are less interested in profits and more focused on residential quality of life.

Goal

Zagster bikesharing company pitched the bikesharing idea to Cleveland officials with several goals in mind, none of which are motivated by profit:
  • Promoting economic growth
  • Linking neighborhoods
  • Physical activity for residents
  • Less dependence on cars
  • Easy, low emissions navigation through the city

The pilot program will place 34 bikes across six stations in Cleveland, and may expand to 200 bikes throughout several other neighborhoods. The bikesharing program is being paid for by a collection of private funders and sponsors, while Zagster is delivering the bikes, locking technology and associated phone app based on its business model, The Plain Dealer reported.

The investors have collected enough money and resources to fund the pilot program for one year. Because the program is starting small with minimal infrastructure requirements, it is costing significantly less than more widespread programs in cities such as New York and Chicago.

Using the Zagster model, rides cost $3 an hour, with a maximum charge of $24 for the entire day. If the rider wants to use the program frequently, there are $15 monthly memberships or $75 annual fees that pay for unlimited rides for an hour at a time.

Economics of Bikesharing

According to BikeShare.com , there are 495 bikesharing programs currently in operation worldwide, deploying nearly 500,000 bicycles. The bikesharing market is reporting a 14 percent annual growth rate. In North America, 29 percent of bikeshare members decreased their use of personal vehicles once the programs were implemented. Furthermore:
  • It is estimated that the average bikeshare member can save $800 annually on transportation costs compared to nonmembers, while each bikeshare trip generates $7 for the local economy
  • For every mile someone bikes instead of drivers, 0.82 pounds of carbon dioxide is not emitted
  • Bikeshare programs are “ideal triangulators” that nurture community and economic growth, according to the Project for Public Spaces

Health Results from Bikesharing

Researchers at George Washington University analyzed the Capital Bikeshare program and membership base to determine what health implications may arise from participating in the program. The study found:
  • There are a variety of motivators driving people to bikeshare programs
  • The majority of bikeshare members reported an increased in time per week spent performing moderate to strenuous physical activities
  • Certain neighborhoods can stand to gain more in terms of health benefits from a bikeshare program based on other amenities available nearby

The researchers gathered data and drew up some recommendations for communities interested in launching a program, or localities looking to improve an existing bikesharing platform. These tips include:

  • Seek private and public health-related grants to increase outreach and program participation in low-income communities
  • Apply a formal health impact assessment tool to evaluate the health benefits of the program on different populations and neighborhoods
  • Survey nonmembers to determine why they do not participate and overcome these obstacles
  • Conduct an annual health survey to measure changes in member health and public health data yearly

According to a Capital Bikeshare member survey, users were able to access a wider range of destinations than they would normally without a membership. In addition:

  • 56 percent of bikeshare trips were for nonwork purposes
  • 38 percent of members who had access to a personal car reduced their annual driving miles by 523 per year
  • 85 percent of members were motivated to join so they could get around more easily or quickly

Furthermore, it was reported that many members used the bikesharing program to access other forms of public transportation more readily, thus increasing overall ridership.

Bike It Out

Gov1 has reported on the growing trend of bikesharing programs , that not only improve user health, but also reduce traffic congestion .

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