In 2008, Washington, DC, became the first city in North America to launch a bikeshare program — what has now become Capital Bikeshare. Since then, more than 40 cities in the U.S. and 600 across the world have introduced similar programs as part of their transportation infrastructure plans.
The benefits of bikeshare are plentiful — and varied! Not sold on it? Here’s just a few of them:
- It's convenient. In fact, 69 percent of Capital Bikeshare members cited getting around fast and easily was “very important” in their motivation. It can solve what is known as the “first-and-last-mile” problem for some commuters — people might not want to walk a mile to a subway station, but they will definitely bike the mile there. This means overall public transit use can also increase, as its reach is expanded with the help of bikeshares.
- It's good for your health. According to the CDC, adults should be getting at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity every week. If you were to use bikeshare for just a 15-minute commute each way during the week, then you’re set!
- It's incredibly cost-effective for the user. Take Boston, for example. A one-way subway ticket on the T costs $2.25, and the MBTA bus fare is $1.70. Let’s say you only use transit for your commute, without any leisure travel. The subway adds up to $1,170 a year; the bus is $884. An annual Hubway membership? That’ll run you $85 for unlimited 30-minute rides, all year long.
- It's also cost-effective for the city. Bikeshares have much lower costs and timelines to build than other transportation projects, which means they yield results much sooner — as long as they are implemented correctly.
- It reduces your personal carbon footprint. Not only do the bikes reduce greenhouse gas emissions, but they also reduce air and noise pollution. According to a study by Nice Ride (Minnesota’s bikeshare provider), 20 percent of the daily bikeshare users in Saint Paul use a bicycle rather than a car. This means that the addition of 30 new stations saved 34,383 car trips per year — a reduction of 1,095 pounds of carbon dioxide every day.
Capital Bikeshare, for example, will also allow users to log in and see their personal statistics for gas and carbon dioxide saved for their trips.
- It's good for the local economy. According to a study by the Department of Transportation, local stores next to New York’s protected bike lane have shown a 49% increase in sales — compared to Manhattan’s overall 3% rise. In a Portland study, vacationing bikers spent $400 million dollars, $28 million of which went to bike repairs, clothing, and gear.And if none of those reasons are enough?
- It makes you happier. Bike commuters are happier than any other group of commuters (followed closely by walkers), according to a study the Portland State University’s urban planning school conducted in 2013. Turns out, people enjoy being in control of their commutes instead of being stuck in traffic they can’t do anything about.
So there you have it — just a sprinkling of reasons bikeshare is worth trying out, if you haven't already! Car Free Day is coming up on Thursday, September 22, which is the perfect chance to give it a whirl.