Transit Mode Share Trends Looking Steady; Rail Appears to Encourage Non-Automobile Commutes

San Francisco's Market Street

» Results of the 2009 American Community Survey show major declines in carpooling, significant increases in biking.

Just how effective have new investments in transit been in promoting a shift of Americans towards public transportation? Has the recent livable communities movement resulted in increased commuting by bike or by foot?

The Census’ American Community Survey, released at the end of last month with the most recent 2009 data, provides a glimpse of what can change over nine years. These data are approximations in advance of the much bigger (and more accurate) sample set that is Census 2010, whose results will be released next year. The information detailed here applies to commutes only, not all trips.

By looking at America’s 30 largest cities — from New York to Portland — we can get some idea of how people are choosing to get to work, and how patterns are changing based

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Washington’s Capital Bikeshare Launches, Bringing Biggest-Yet System to the U.S.

Capital Bikeshare at Dupont

» Nation’s first modern bike sharing city replaces its fleet. Program could bring dramatic change to one of the nation’s more vibrant inner cities.

When Washington’s SmartBike DC system began operating in 2008, the city was doing something no U.S. municipality had yet attempted: Betting that locals and tourists would excitedly jump onto public bicycles, encouraging the growth of a transportation mode that has too often been left behind by automobile-oriented planners.

Unfortunately, that bet failed to come through: The system was never frequently used, with an average of only about one hundred daily riders. For those of us used to using bike sharing networks, there were good explanations for the system’s difficulties: It was confined in too small of an area; it only offered about 100 bikes total; and it only had ten stations. European standards, grounded in model schemes in Lyon, Barcelona, and Paris, suggested that the most

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Can Bike Sharing Work in Cities With Monofunctional Job Centers?

London Cycle Hire Station Status Map

» London’s experience may provide a useful example for American cities looking to introduce large bike sharing systems.

Bike sharing is growing rapidly as the transportation mode du jour; not only have the standardized bikes and their docking stations invaded most major cities across Europe, but they’re now headed towards introduction in a number of American cities as well. Before investing full-scale in the purchase of thousands of new bikes and the installation of hundreds of docks, U.S. planners should be looking closely at previous experience to determine best practices in system design.

Last month, I laid out my concerns that Washington, D.C.’s new Capital Bikeshare doesn’t plot its stations close enough together for the system to be effective, at least based on the manner in which Montréal and Paris have implemented their networks. The lack of station density could prevent easy use by day-to-day users because of difficulties related

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Ensuring the Efficient Workings of a Bike-Sharing System

Bike Share Comparison

» Washington releases preliminary information about bike-sharing station locations. Are they positioned to succeed?

After the opening earlier this year of major bike-sharing systems in Denver and Minneapolis, Washington expects to relaunch its own program this fall. Working with Arlington County, Virginia, the U.S. capital will replace the only marginally successful 100-bike, 10-station SmartBike DC network installed in 2008 by Clear Channel with a 1,100-bike, 114-station system using Montréal’s Bixi technology, also under development in London, Boston, and Melbourne. Washington’s success, along with that of the several other American cities currently pushing these public cycling systems, will determine whether similar networks will spread to large and medium-sized cities across North America.

This recent focus on bike-sharing is a response to the strong public reception to systems in European cities like Paris and Barcelona, where thousands of people hop on the publicly owned vehicles everyday. In the French

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Paris Unveils Four-Year Cycling Plan With Aim to Reinforce Velib' Bike Share

Paris Bike Plan

» Two major axes will service 65 “biking neighborhoods” throughout the city. Dedicated bike lanes will increase from 273 miles today to 435 miles by 2014.

If Velib’ has changed the face of Paris by providing it the largest bike sharing system in the world with 1,800 stations and more than 20,000 bikes, there’s still plenty of work to be done in the French capital. After nine years of slow but steady improvements originating from an environmentally minded city hall, Paris is about to hit the accelerator pedal.

The new plan, to be presented in early June to the city council, where it is virtually guaranteed passage, will increase the number of bike lanes within this 40.7 square mile city from 273 miles today (most built since 2001) to 435 miles in 2014. Two major axes — one running east-west from the Bois de Vincennes to the

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by Yonah Freemark

yfreemark (at) thetransportpolitic (dot) com

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