Considering bike share’s role in public transit

By Mary Ebeling

Lately the question of whether public bike share is helping transit systems or taking a bite out of ridership has been on many transit planners’ minds. The answer that is emerging seems to be that both cases can be true depending on the situation, but that, overall, bike share helps support and improve transit operations. In their forthcoming study, Elliot Martin and Susan Shaheen note, “The denser the urban environment (particularly for rail), the more bikesharing provides new connections that substitute for existing ones. The less dense the environment, the more bikesharing establishes new connections to the existing public transit system…improving urban mobility and lowering dependency on automobile travel.”

Transit agencies are now recognizing bike share as “…an important form of public transportation.” Arlington County, VA, prepared a Transit Development Plan for expansion of Capital Bikeshare to complement its rail and bus transit services. Transit systems incorporating bike share into agency service models will realize increasing benefits as bike share becomes a more important piece of an integrated system.

Mary Ebeling is a Transportation Policy Analyst at SSTI.