Fourteen greater South Bend bike and transportation officials and advocates gathered to explore the possibility of a Bike Sharing Program in Michiana. The occasion included a Webinar presentation by the Association of Pedestrian and Bicycle Professionals (APBP) in a meeting room at the main St. Joseph County Library. After the Webinar, the discussion centered on where Michiana might locate Bike Docking Stations: how many bikes and stations would the community support. Several attendees had already used bikeshare systems in other communities in Florida and Chicago and were excited about the prospects of a program in Michiana.
Bike sharing in North America has been around since about 1965, but the early systems were unsuccessful. It wasn’t until 1998 when the powers of computers and wireless communications were exploding, that bike sharing really became practical and cost effective. Information technology has made smart bikes a reality, and bike sharing is an important cog in public transit for numerous urban areas around the country.
We read about bike sharing in the big cities like Chicago, Minneapolis/St. Paul and New York, but the programs are being implemented in cities of all sizes. For example: Ann Arbor MI, Greenville NC, and Hoboken NJ all have systems. Buffalo NY, a city about twice as big as South Bend/Mishawaka but with a similar weather pattern has a system.
What is bikeshare?
According to the APBP, bike sharing systems offer a convenient and reasonably‐priced transportation option in urban environments, university campuses and tourist communities. From a history of free bike programs and bicycle libraries, current generation bikeshare systems may use automated docking stations with a quantity of bicycles, a fleet of smart bicycles with on‐board locking and reservation systems, or hybrid variations that include elements of both.
Why is bikeshare popular now?
As rates of car ownership and use decline, more people desire a range of transportation options, from walking to transit to bikeshare to carshare. Cities responding to this trend claim higher retention rates of desirable workers and taxpayers. Policy makers, conference goers and tourists who visit cities with bikeshare systems return to their own communities with a new vision for modern‐day transit systems.
Want more information?
The meeting was organized by Bicycle Indiana and the City of South Bend. Another meeting and Webinar is scheduled for January 8. Anyone interested in attending the meeting should contact Chris Dressel at 574-235-5847 or firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information on the APBP click http://www.apbp.org/.