It’s efficient, economical and safe transportation for cities, and a new study sees rapid growth in bike share in the U.S. In 2016, people clocked 28 million trips — on par with ridership of Amtrak’s entire system. That compares with 320,000 in 2010 when the first modern bike share systems launched in the U.S.
And the momentum is expected to continue: 2016 ridership exceeds the previous year by 25 percent. Plans are on tap for new systems in Detroit, New Haven and New Orleans, as well as for expansions to existing systems, including Citi Bike in New York City, which will grow to 12,000 bikes in 2017.
The study, released this week by the National Association of City Transportation Officials (NACTO), is the first nationwide tally of bike share rides in the U.S., according to the organization.
The data tells a story of remarkable growth. Between 2010 and 2016, the number of bike share systems climbed from 4 with 1,600 bikes to 55 with 42,000 bikes. NACTO defines a bike share system as a publicly-available system with at least 10 stations and 100 bikes.
Bike Share in the U.S. by the Numbers
88 million: Bike share rides taken in the U.S. between 2010 and 2016
28 million: Bike share rides taken in the U.S. in 2016
14 million: Bike share rides taken on Citi Bike in 2016
42,000: Bikes in U.S. bike share systems
85: Percentage of bike share rides among top five systems
55: The number of bike share systems in the U.S.
25: Percentage of growth in rides between 2015 and 2016
24: Percentage of bike share systems offering income-based discount programs
12: Average ride time in minutes for bike share members
1: Known bike share fatality
Growth was heavily driven by the debut of large systems in 2013, as well as the addition of many smaller systems. Still, the top five bike share programs, led by Citi Bike in New York City and including Capital Bike Share in Greater Washington DC, Citi Bike in Miami, Divvy in Chicago and Hubway in Greater Boston, account for 85 percent of bike share rides. NACTO says this confirms its previous studies showing that high density of stations, ideally about a 5-minute walk apart, and even spacing correlate with higher utility and usage. That makes sense because the choice of bike share tends to be driven by convenience.
Also of note, average ride time of 12 minutes for bike share members reflects this transportation mode’s value for short, point-to-point trips and to bridge gaps among transit options — for example between home or office and subway or light rail.
Another key trend: More systems are offering income-based subsidies to help make bike share as widely accessible as possible. “Biking saves time and money, improves health outcomes, and increases access to opportunities,” said Tracey Capers, executive vice president of Bedford-Stuyvesant Restoration, which has worked with Citi Bike and other partners on community outreach to break down barriers to bike share membership and use.
Photo: Anthony Ginsbrook