Is bike sharing right for your community?

Bike-share programs are becoming more popular in communities across the world. What would make a bike share right for your city or town? Consider these factors:

An active bicycling community, coupled with bike lanes or paths – Cyclists are often the first ambassadors for bike sharing, and bicycling organizations frequently get involved in hosting “how to ride” clinics and safety programs for bike-sharing systems.

A supportive city government, and nonprofits that support the environment – Many bike-share programs are partnerships between municipal and environmental groups.

Sponsors to underwrite bike shares as they get on their feet – These can be universities, corporations, and nonprofits able to make multi-year commitments.

Places to go – One of the biggest reasons people use bike sharing is to supplement cars or public transportation, a concept often referred to as “the last mile.” Bike sharing can be the bridge between an office and a restaurant for lunch, or the bus and a bar after work. It also can ease parking demand in tourist areas, since bike-share users can park elsewhere and bike in.

Logical spots for bike racks – Bike-sharing companies like Bixi and B-Cycle regularly consult with communities to choose the locations for racks where bikes will be most used.

A “complete streets” mindset – In which pedestrians, bikes and cars coexist comfortably.

Micheline Maynard is a journalist, author and educator based in Ann Arbor. She is a former Detroit bureau chief and senior business correspondent for The New York Times.

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