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Report: Access to Car-Share and Bike-Share Is Worse in Communities of Color

Graph: Shared use Mobility Center

In many major American cities, communities of color have worse access to car-share and bike-share than majority white neighborhoods. Chart: Shared Use Mobility Center

Car-share and bike-share services are making it easier to go without owning a car in American cities, but access to “shared-use” systems remains limited in communities of color compared to majority-white neighborhoods, according to a new analysis from the Shared Use Mobility Center [PDF].

Urban areas with low car-ownership rates and strong transit are ideal for car and bike sharing. But a SUMC study found communities of color were being left out. Map: Shared Use Mobility Center

SUMC’s map of where car-share and bike-share would be most useful in Portland.

SUMC developed a method to analyze which places have the most potential for car-share and bike-share usage across 27 American metros. Areas with relatively high transit ridership, low car ownership, and small blocks (which enhance walkability) are where share-use systems can be most useful, according to SUMC.

SUMC then compared these areas of “opportunity” for car-share and bike-share to areas where the services are actually available. In many cities, SUMC observed that dense low-income neighborhoods lack access to shared-use systems even though they have the necessary characteristics for success:

While they have been often passed over by private operators, these neighborhoods have many of the key qualities — including high population density, transit access, and walkability — needed to support shared-use systems. Additionally, the opportunity to scale up shared modes in these neighborhoods is especially compelling since they stand to profit most from the benefits of shared mobility, including reduced household transportation costs and increased connectivity to jobs and opportunities outside the immediate community.

A clear racial disparity is apparent in many cities. In Chicago, for instance, 72 percent of low-income, majority-white neighborhoods have access to shared-use systems, according to SUMC’s analysis, but only 48 percent of low-income communities of color do. The disparity persists regardless of income levels. In well-off majority-white Chicago neighborhoods, 77 percent of households have access to car-share or bike-share, compared to just 49 percent in affluent majority-minority neighborhoods.

Not all cities have these disparities, but the pattern is alarmingly common.

Read more…

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Report: As Cities Add Bike Lanes, More People Bike and Biking Gets Safer


Cities adding bike infrastructure are seeing a “safety in numbers” — more people on bikes plus lower risk of severe or fatal injury. Graphs: NACTO

The more people bike on the streets, the safer the streets are for everyone who bikes. This phenomenon, originally identified by researcher Peter Jacobsen, is known as “safety in numbers.” And that’s exactly what American cities are seeing as they add bike infrastructure — more cyclists and safer cycling — according to a new report from the National Association of City Transportation Officials [PDF].

The report is part of NACTO’s research series on implementing equitable bike-share systems. NACTO makes the case that large-scale bike-share systems can improve access to jobs in low-income communities by extending the reach of bus and rail lines, and — citing the safety-in-numbers evidence — that good bike lanes have to be part of the solution. Otherwise dangerous street conditions will continue to discourage people from biking.

NACTO tracked changes in bike commuting, bike lane miles, and cyclist fatalities and severe injuries in seven U.S. cities that have added protected bike lanes and bike-share systems over the past decade or so. In all seven cities, cycling has grown along with the bike network, while the risk of severe injury or death while cycling has declined.

In five of the cities — Chicago, Minneapolis, New York, Philadelphia, and Portland — the absolute number of cycling deaths and severe injuries fell between 2007 and 2014, even as cycling rose substantially. In the two other cities — San Francisco and Washington, D.C. — deaths and serious injuries increased somewhat, but not as much as the increase in bicycle commuting.

New York City, for example, has added about 54 miles of bike lanes per year since 2007. Chicago has added about 27 miles per year since 2011. Over that time the risk of severe injury or death while cycling has decreased by about half, NACTO reports.

Read more…


Bike-Share NIMBY Flyer: Make Cobble Hill Great Again

A tipster spotted this flyer on Douglass Street in Cobble Hill, where Citi Bike will be expanding this year:


Makes perfect sense. Keep bike-share at bay, and the neighborhood can be suspended in time. David Greenfield and the MTA won’t mess with F train service. Supermarkets will stay in business. The meddlesome construction of housing for other people will cease. Traffic and parking will return to a state of perfect efficiency.

Or maybe, in this majority car-free neighborhood, bike-share is going to help people affected by less frequent F local service (if that ever happens), improve access to grocery stores beyond a short walking distance, and ease traffic troubles a bit by making it more convenient to get around without driving — and whoever made this flyer just wants to maximize free curbside parking spaces on Degraw Street, where the author stores a personal vehicle.

Bike-share NIMBYs tend not to get very far in NYC, but if you live in these parts it can’t hurt to dial up Council Member Carlos Menchaca’s number on the flyer and say you want a robust bike-share system for the neighborhood.


DOT and Motivate Will Put New Citi Bike Stations Closer Together

Brooklyn CB 6 and other parts of the city where Citi Bike expansions have fallen short on standards for station density are in line for new "infill" stations. Image: DOT

There will be more bike-share stations in Brooklyn Community Board 6 than this map indicates. Image: DOT

The Citi Bike expansion that began last year has always been tempered by the fact that new stations are spread more thinly than the original bike-share network — making the expansion zones less convenient for bike-share users. Now it looks like DOT and Motivate, the company that runs Citi Bike, are going to fix that.

In a press release about Citi Bike expansion in 2016, the mayor’s office announced today that up to 42 new stations will be placed in “portions of the system installed in 2015, including the Upper East Side and Upper West Side of Manhattan, and portions planned for installation in 2016 and 2017.”

The city expects to have “more than 600 stations” and 10,000 bikes operational by the end of this year. The system will extend up to 110th Street in Manhattan, and to the neighborhoods between Red Hook and Park Slope in Brooklyn. More expansions are slated for next year.

The 42 “infill” stations will put more bike-share stations in the expansion zones within a short walk of each other, and that’s one of the keys to making the whole network function as well as it should.

The National Association of City Transportation Officials recommends 28 bike-share stations per square mile. But recent Citi Bike expansions on the Upper West Side and Upper East Side, as well as expansions into Harlem and Park Slope that have been mapped but not installed, have all fallen short of that standard.

It’s possible that some of the infill stations will cannibalize docks from other stations, and we’re still crunching the numbers to see if 42 new stations is enough to achieve the density that NACTO recommends. But today’s announcement is definitely good news for the future of bike-share in NYC.

DOT will be presenting the infill station locations publicly in the coming weeks, beginning tonight at Brooklyn Community Board 6.


As Jersey City and Hoboken Fight Over Bike-Share, Everyone Loses

Map: Google

Jersey City and Hoboken have two separate bike-share systems that serve an area smaller than the first phase of NYC’s Citi Bike. Map: Google

A dispute between Hoboken and Jersey City is making the decision to operate separate bike-share systems in each city look even worse.

In late 2013, the two cities — along with neighboring Weehawken — announced plans for a combined bike-share system, called Hudson Bike Share. At first Hudson Bike Share was envisioned as a “smart lock” system that allows users to dock their bikes anywhere (unlike New York’s Citi Bike and most other bike-share systems, where users dock at stations with fixed locations).

Teaming up made a lot of sense, since the cities cover a relatively small geographic area no larger than the initial Citi Bike service zone. Unfortunately, things fell apart. As the Hudson Bike Share rollout dragged on, Weehawken withdrew completely. Hoboken went ahead with a smart lock system, while Jersey City opted for the same platform as Citi Bike, giving members access to New York City’s bike-share network as well.

The decision to run separate systems for each city was deeply flawed, according to TransitCenter’s Jon Orcutt. “The keys to high ridership bike-share are scale and density,” he said, “so obviously having two different systems in adjacent small cities, you’re automatically sacrificing on scale.”

As soon as Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop and Hoboken Mayor Dawn Zimmer failed to agree on a shared system, they limited the usefulness of each bike-share network to their constituents.

Read more…


Citi Bike Will Expand Uptown With Its Too-Sparse Station Network


The bike-share map for Community Board 11, via DOT. Click to enlarge.

The good news: Citi Bike is expanding up to 130th Street later this year.

The bad news: Stations in Morningside, Harlem, and East Harlem are going to be more spread out than the bike-share network below 59th Street. As with last year’s additions to the bike-share network, the longer walking distances between stations will make these expansions less convenient for Citi Bike users and sap the overall effectiveness of the system.

DOT and Motivate, the company that runs Citi Bike, have been holding workshops and getting feedback online about where to site stations. Maps for three community board districts have now been released, and the station densities fall short of the 28 stations per square mile recommended by the National Association of City Transportation Officials.

All together, the bike-share maps for Community Board 11 in East Harlem [PDF], Community Board 9 on the West Side [PDF], and Community Board 10 in central Harlem [PDF] equate to a density of a little below 23 stations per square mile. If you look at CB 9 and CB 11 separately, however, the stations are more sparse, in the range of 20-21 stations per square mile.

This is the second year of a three-year expansion phase that will eventually bring Citi Bike to more of Queens and Brooklyn as well. The agreement between DOT and Motivate didn’t require more than 378 new stations to serve the expansion zones, which works out to a lower station density than the original Citi Bike service area. Rumors have swirled that the two parties are close to amending the expansion process so stations are spaced together more tightly, but so far that doesn’t seem to be happening.


Will Citi Bike Riders Get a More Convenient Network for Their Higher Fares?

Last week, the price of a Citi Bike annual membership rose from $149 to $155. It’s still a good deal for people who make more than a few bike-share trips per month, but taken in tandem with last year’s jump from $95, it’s also nothing to sneeze at. Will bike-share users get more for their money as fares rise?

Citi Bike says the higher fares will “offset costs of operating [a] larger, more robust network at the quality riders expect.” And it’s true that service improved dramatically last year while the number of stations grew 40 percent. The trouble is that Citi Bike stations are more spread out in the expansion zones (currently the Upper West Side and the Upper East Side) than in the original service area, because Motivate doesn’t want to supply a sufficient number of stations to cover all the turf DOT wants bike-share to serve.

This is a problem because bike-share doesn’t work as well when stations are spread farther apart. The longer you have to walk at either end of the bike trip, the less convenient it is to use bike-share. A more disperse network also means less redundancy — full or empty stations become bigger obstacles if another station isn’t nearby.

Word is that NYC DOT and Motivate are close to reaching an agreement that would lead to better station density throughout the expansion areas. Streetsblog reached out to both parties and was unable to confirm the rumor, however.

Unless something changes, the thin network will become a more pronounced weakness as Citi Bike expands northward in Manhattan and deeper into Queens and Brooklyn.


Citi Bike Announces 4 Percent Increase in Annual Membership Fee

Could the relatively minimal increase in fees be a sign that things are starting to look up for Citi Bike? Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Citi Bike announced today that it will increase the cost of annual membership from $149 to $155, or 4 percent, effective March 1. The $60 annual fee for NYCHA residents will not change, nor will the option to pay for annual membership in monthly installments of $14.95. In an email to members, Citi Bike emphasized that annual subscribers will get access to a larger service area as hundreds of new stations come online.

This year’s price hike is much smaller than last year’s. When new ownership took over Citi Bike in 2014, a condition of the deal with the city was that the annual fee would rise from $95 to $149. The agreement also limited future price hikes, tying the maximum allowable increase to the rate of inflation.

Since then, Citi Bike reworked its software and hardware, refurbished its bike fleet, and expanded its reach, adding more than 100 stations in Manhattan, Queens, and Brooklyn. About 200 more stations will be added in the next two years.

The modest fee increase doesn’t tell us much about Citi Bike’s finances, but ridership and membership have been on the rebound after declining in 2014 and the first half of 2015. The number of active annual members fell to 80,885 last July, according to the company’s public data, then shot up to 91,901 by November.

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Bike-Share Open Data Standard Clears the Way for Better Trip Planning Apps

It’s about to get easier to plan trips that include bike-share.


It’s about to get easier for developers of apps like Citymapper to incorporate bike-share data.

Yesterday, the North American Bikeshare Association, a trade group representing transportation agencies and private firms involved in operating bike-share systems, announced that it is adopting an open data standard. NABSA includes Motivate, the company that operates Citi Bike, Divvy, Bay Area Bike Share, and several other systems in American cities.

The policy means that data about station locations and bike and dock availability will be much easier for software developers to incorporate into trip planning apps. Bike-share data will be released in the same format that transit agencies use, known as the General Transit Feed Specification (GTFS).

Previously, variations between systems made the use of bike-share data a cumbersome, one-city-at-time process for developers. Motivate spokesperson Dani Simons said in an email that the open data platform clears the way for rapid integration of bike-share information by companies with huge user bases, like Google and Apple.

“Transit provides a standard data feed already,” she said, “which makes it easier for these bigger players to provide transit information to customers, which in turn makes it easier for an individual to decide to take the MTA or the Tokyo Metro or the Portland Max, even if they’re new to taking transit in New York, Tokyo or Portland. We want that same level of seamlessness and ease for bike share customers as well.”

Read more…


The Next Brooklyn Bike-Share Expansion Will Be the Thinnest Part of Citi Bike


Citi Bike is coming to the neighborhoods west of Prospect Park, but the stations won’t be spaced conveniently close together. Map via NYC DOT. Click to enlarge.

DOT unveiled its latest Citi Bike expansion map last week, and the stations look significantly more spread out than stations in the rest of the system.

Spread-out stations are a problem for bike-share users because people have to walk farther to make trips, and that costs time. The National Association of City Transportation Officials recommends 28 stations per square mile — and the city’s contract with Citi Bike operator Motivate stipulates the same metric — but NYC DOT has been thinning out stations in its expansion zones. The city wants to cover the geographic area described in the bike-share contract, while Motivate doesn’t want to supply more than the 378 additional stations it’s required to. The result is a less effective system for everyone.

With 62 stations covering the 3.1 square miles of Brooklyn Community Board 6 — which includes Red Hook, Park Slope, and everything in between — the station density works out to 20 per square mile. As Citi Bike expands into Upper Manhattan, western Queens, and more of Brooklyn by 2017, these are the station densities New Yorkers can expect in the absence of a new strategy from DOT and/or Motivate.

DOT officials told the CB 6 committee that more stations can be added after the initial rollout. But it could be a long time before those gaps get filled in. When the current round of expansion wraps up in 2017, there will be a lot of ground to cover with infill stations plus huge pressure to keep expanding outward.

Ironically, the one thing Citi Bike had going for it consistently from the very beginning — a convenient network where a station was always a short walk away — is deteriorating just as everything else comes together. Citi Bike is finally on the rebound thanks to a thorough overhaul of its equipment and software. How long will the good times last if every expansion fails to deliver the convenience bike-share users have come to expect?