Bike Share over the world

Bike Share over the world

Summary

As successful bike sharing programs explode all over the world in cities such as Paris, New York, Minneapolis and Chicago, the question emerges, “Can these models work on a smaller scale with less population density?” The purpose of this study is to assess if the physical environment of La Crosse, Wisconsin can support and grow a bike share program. A two-pronged approach to environmental assessment was employed; field studies and the creation of a heat map using a weighted raster analysis of census tract data. Field studies indicate an average of 3.14 or Moderately High, or C Level of Service on the Federal Highway Administration Bicycle Compatibility Index. Average scores from volunteer bike-ability surveys were 3.435 Satisfactory, on a 1-poor and 5-excellent scale. Arterial roads through the city, which were identified by survey respondents as barriers to physical activity and mobility will need to be overcome and minimized in the future. The heat map clearly demonstrates that the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse Campus and downtown La Crosse score highly in the indicators for bicycle sharing success with a high concentration of: bicycle infrastructure, mixed use development, and contiguously high scoring census tracts. This corridor should be the first implementation area or Phase 1. Phase 1 has a Western border at the Mississippi River, Northern-La Crosse St., Southern-Cass St., and Eastern-Losey Blvd. Future phases 2, 3 and 4 will build on Phase 1 success. La Crosse has an adequate environment: bicycle infrastructure and geo-demographic density to support bike share, but to succeed and grow in the future, infrastructure improvements will be necessary before implementation. Infrastructure improvements should be prioritized in the Phase 1 area

Introduction

As successful bike sharing programs explode all over the world in cities such as Paris, New York, Minneapolis, and Chicago, the question emerges, “Can these models work on a smaller scale with less population density?” La Crosse, Wisconsin is a unique community in that it has areas of high density mixed use development akin to larger population centers. This type of development lends itself to bike sharing. La Crosse presents many opportunities for travel by bicycle: a nearly intact turn of the century traffic grid, relatively flat topography around trip generators, and compact mixed use development. The bicycle is an optimal tool for traveling within a system with these features. A crucial, but sometimes overlooked, component of a successful bike share is a safe, robust, and connected bicycle infrastructure network with few barriers to movement. These barriers could be La Crosse’s greatest challenge to successful a bike share program.

La Crosse on the Rise

La Crosse has recently been voted number 11 in Outside Magazine’s “16 Greatest Places to Live in America” (Outside Magazine September 2014). In 2012, La Crosse achieved a Silver Designation from the League of American Bicyclists Bicycle Friendly Community Program. La Crosse has realized a seven fold increase in bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure from 2010-2013. Recent bike counts have demonstrated a doubling or 100% increase in the number of people riding bicycles in the city of La Crosse6.

What is Bike Sharing?

Bike Sharing is an innovative transportation program which is ideal for short distance point to point trips.

Users can pick up a bicycle at self service stations throughout a network and return it to any other station. Many payment types and plans are available, options range from annual memberships to hourly, daily or weekly rental.

Why Bike Sharing?

Bike sharing provides another low cost transportation option to your community. Survey results show that 93% of La Crosse respondents stated it was (very important 66% to somewhat important 27%) to have transportation options other than an automobile. Benefits of bike share can be separated into two categories; benefits to the city/region and benefits to the user/society.13

Transportation benefits to the city/region include the following:13

● Does not create pollution, or contribute to global warming

● Does not add to congestion

● Is less expensive to purchase and maintain than other modes (rail, bus, auto)

● Requires less infrastructure investment than other modes

● Allows low-cost expansion of existing transportation services

● Promotes greater transit use through modal integration

Transportation benefits to the user/society include the following:13

● Provides low-cost, on-demand transportation (typically offered 24 hours a day, seven days a week)

● Serves as the “final mile” of commute

● More bicycles on the road increases the safety of other cyclists

● Offers physical exercise for the user

● Makes a city more livable and neighborly

Methods: A two-pronged approach to environmental assessment was employed to predict the probability of successful bike share in La Crosse; field studies and the creation of a heat map using a weighted raster analysis of census tract data.

Field Study : Lack of bicycle infrastructure and dense mixed-use development were cited in previous studies2 as reasons for delaying the introduction of bike share. Existing on-road bicycle infrastructure was assessed using two methods; the Federal Highway Administration’s Bicycle Compatibility Index7 tool and bicycle surveys by volunteers.

Heat Map: In order to determine where bike share would have the highest probability of success, nine indicators were compiled by Jason Buck of City of La Crosse Information Services Department staff for the metro area: Population Density, Non-Institutional Group Population, Job Density, Retail Job Density, Trip Generators, Parks, Transit Stations (Grand River Station and Amtrak), Existing Bike Infrastructure, PAT Stops (Bus stations).

Below are the values used to create a weighted raster analysis “heat map.” These indicators are similar to values used in the Feasibility Study for a Pittsburgh Bike Share1. Our map differs in that elevation was eliminated due to lack of topography in the city of La Crosse and train stations and the Grand River Station were altered to reflect a value similar but slightly more than other transit stations.

● Population Density – 18.53%

● Non-Institutional Group Population – 10.83%

● Job Density – 9.55%

● Retail Job Density – 9.55%

● Trip Generators – 9.55%

● Parks – 4.42%

● Transit Stations (Grand River Station and Amtrak) – 13.33%

● Existing Bike Infrastructure – 12.12%

● PAT Stops (Bus stations) – 12.12%

“Hot Spots” or pockets where all these indicators aligned to predict success were identified using GIS analysis tools in ArcGIS. These hot spots indicate where environmental conditions are most favorable for bike sharing success.1 Connections of hotspots through improved bicycle infrastructure would help bike share to succeed and expand throughout the community.

Field Study Methods

In order to verify adequate bicycle infrastructure existed in La Crosse, the bicycle compatibility of the proposed first phase was assessed using two methods: a bike-ability survey by groups of volunteer bicyclists and two person field survey using the Federal Highway Administration’s Bicycle Compatibility Index (BCI).

Bicycle Compatibility Index

The BCI reflects the comfort level of a bicyclist on the basis of observed geometric, surrounding land use and operational characteristics of a roadway. The lower the BCI value, the greater the level of comfort a bicyclist experiences.

Table 1 BCI scoring

Public Input

Public input for the feasibility study included an electronic survey, two public information meetings scheduled for 2015 and field surveys by groups of volunteers from the La Crosse area. An electronic/online survey was made available to the general public beginning on September 15, 2014, closed on November 18, 2014 with 700 people responding to twenty-eight questions. Initially questions were drafted from specific target goals, reviewing best practices utilized in surveys conducted in other bike share studies including;

● California Department of Transportation, District 4 Employee Bike sharing Pilot Program Evaluation, February, 2011

● Virginia Tech Capital Bike share Study, December, 2011

● Puget Sound Bike Share Survey, Queen Anne/Uptown, January, 2014

● Feasibility Study for a Pittsburgh Bike Share, Fall, 2011

● Cleveland Bike Share Feasibility Study, September, 2013

The intent of the survey was to gather information regarding;

● knowledge of bike share

● socio-demographic profile of potential bike share users

● barriers to use

● measures of success

● exercise habits

● perception of the bicycling environment

● correlate location of residence and work

The Bike Share Steering Committee (a work group to the YMCA Pioneering Healthier Communities’ Move More Committee and community stakeholders), reviewed and edited a draft survey. Committee members sent out emails and posted information to existing websites to direct people to the survey. The YMCA posted an invitation on their website. Local businesses involved employees on a volunteer basis. The administrators of the survey took steps to maintain the anonymity and confidentiality of participants. Data used will not be linked to any information that could personally identify participants. No compensation of any kind is provided or inferred to survey subject/participants. All participants had freedom to withdraw from answering questions in part, or in whole, during the course of the survey. All participants randomly chose to complete all or part of the survey.

Results

The heat map clearly demonstrates that the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse Campus scores highly in the indicators for bicycle sharing success, with “spokes” radiating north to “Old Town” La Crosse and West to downtown La Crosse. Given the concentration of; bicycle infrastructure, mixed use development, contiguously high scoring tracts and relatively small geographic area. Phase 1 has a Western border at the Mississippi River, Northern-La Crosse St., Southern-Cass St. and Eastern-Losey Blvd/Hwy 16. This corridor, as illustrated in light blue on Figure 2, should be the epicenter of the initial phase of bike share in La Crosse.

Bicycle Compatibility Assessment

Specific corridors connecting Phase 1 hot spots were examined using the BCI and community volunteer field surveys to assess their ability to support bike share. The block by block score is given under BCI score, the corridor average is the score of the entire segment (e.g. State St 2nd st-16th St). The corridor averages were tabulated to conclude a Total Average for all of Phase 1. The BCI yielded a 3.137 average score for the entire Phase 1 area on a 1 to 5 scale, the lower the BCI value the greater the level of comfort a bicyclist experiences.

Electronic Survey Results

The depth of information gathered in the survey goes beyond the scope of this study. The information gathered will serve to guide future planning phases for bike share La Crosse.

● knowledge of bike share

● socio-demographic profile of potential bike share users

● barriers to use

● measures of success

● exercise habits

● perception of the bicycling environment

● correlate location of residence and work

General Awareness/Knowledge of Bike Share

● “How would you rate your knowledge or awareness of what a bike share program is?” 64% or 448 rated their knowledge at a pretty good to confident knowledge base.

● “If a bike share program became available in La Crosse would you use it?” 59.82% would be partially to very likely to use it.

● The most common uses cited are; o Errands around town 48.8% o Recreation and exercise 65.92% o Lunchtime during work hours 27.65%

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