Is there room for a bike share in a largely car-dependent area?
With the exception of a few dense areas, North Texas is notorious for its sprawl and car-dependency. Despite Dallas activists working to tear down a highway to create greater walkability and the city’s recent approval of connective bike lanes, the culture of people-centered mobility continues to grow slowly and encounter large expanses of abandoned downtown areas. However, nearby Ft. Worth, TX which is designed with much of the same infrastructure, introduced a bike share system two years ago in their downtown area with apparent success.
Ft. Worth Bike Share stations are located largely in concentrated hubs surrounding high (foot)-traffic areas such as the Cultural District, Downtown area, and the campus of Texas Christian University.
The bike share is part of a national “B-cycle” network of bikes. Different from bike rental, bike share is comparable to a parking meter, while rental functions like a parking pass. Users pay an initial fee to a station’s meter to release a standard bike, then are charged by the hour until it is returned to any station. With locations in Austin, Denver, San Antonio, and more, B-cycle facilitates a system to bridge the gap between bike ownership and rental, in dense urban areas.
I spent the afternoon with a friend exploring, on bike, and the roads were extremely friendly and easy to navigate. Streets were shaded and there were diverse and accessible attractions within the small, dense area. The space lacked pedestrian-friendly ambiance, with few sidewalk cafes, or monuments with shading; but with bike lanes and wide sidewalks, the downtown area was not dominated by cars, making the ride feel safe and enjoyable. Without a doubt, the extent of the bike share’s usability ended when we reached high-traffic streets and large, deserted areas, which framed the downtown; but the system seemed like a good, low-cost mobility addition for those living or working in the area.
Does your city have a bike share? Where do you see this idea becoming successful?
Credits: Image by Christine Cepelak. Data linked to sources.