Bike Share for All: The Global Green Model

When we talk about our advocating for a bike share system, such as the planned bike share system in LA County, what do we mean? The concept is simple enough: Bike share is a shared system of public bicycles that allows people to rent a bike (for a fee) for a short trip, then return the bike to a different location. It’s a concept that has been deployed in over 500 cities across the world, and has been a successful way to get people out of their cars and into an alternative form of transportation. For Global Green USA, this is a great motivator to launch a bike share system in Los Angeles; however, our vision for bike share goes further. We envision a successful bike share system as one that produces an environmental value, provides equitable access, and promotes a healthy and livable community.

Global Green USA Bike Share For All
Global Green USA Bike Share For All

Environment: Nearly half of all trips using any form of transportation in the United States are less than three miles, which makes bicycle transportation an ideal replacement for many of these short trips.  In fact, US cities with bike share programs report that one-quarter of bike share trips replace a vehicle trip.

As we work on bike share, we’ll aim to replicate these results by creating a system that attracts local drivers, in addition to visitors and tourists. We are focused on local, targeted marketing and outreach to attract potential users, promote usage, and encourage bike ridership.

Equity: Transportation is the second largest household expenditure after housing and, for many low-income families, it constitutes a major burden in cost and time.  An ideal bike share system would provide a convenient and affordable form of transportation, without the cost of bike ownership and maintenance.  An annual membership to a bike share program typically costs between $70 and $100, compared to the national average cost of $8,946 per year to own and operate a car.

Unfortunately, most bike share systems around the country do not do a good job of attracting low-income riders.  For example, the median household income for users of Washington DC’s Capital Bikeshare is $66,508; the median income of Miami Beach’s Deco Bike is $53,808.  This is far above what the average low-income household earns in Los Angeles County: $29,550-42,150 (depending on family size).

As we work on bike share, we’ll aim to attract low-income riders through fair pricing, desirable locations, and easy connection to other forms of public transit. We are working to ensure that an LA County bike share system includes stations in low-income neighborhoods, alternative payment options for users without credit cards, and utilizes strong outreach efforts to communities that may be unfamiliar with the system.

Livable Cities: Bike share can be an integral part of transit-oriented development (TOD).  If designed correctly, bike share connects to other forms of public transportation, thereby creating an interlinked system that provides a complete alternative to cars. Bike shares can make a city’s businesses, amenities and services more accessible to both the residents and tourists.  Furthermore, bike shares encourage more bicycling and promote a healthy lifestyle by engaging users in an enjoyable, low-impact and active form of physical activity.  Global Green envisions a bike share system that is strategically integrated into city life to create healthy and vibrant communities, and give users the freedom to explore a city in a new way.

As we work on bike share, we’ll aim to ensure that bike share stations are thoughtfully integrated with other forms of current and planned public transit so that they create a first/last mile connection.  We are working with communities to gather feedback on the placement, design, and payment structure of stations to ensure that bike share is accepted and utilized.

Global Green’s vision for bike share takes the traditional model, but emphasizes a system that promotes clean, livable, and equitable communities. It is through this lens that we continue our efforts to bring bike share to Southern California.