The City of New Orleans is known for its unique culture and world-renowned festivals such as Mardi Gras. It’s a city that like many across the country, relies on the economic impact of tourism.
“While these events are part and parcel of the city’s cultural backbone, their demand for access create immense pressure on the city’s already taxed street network and transit system,” the Regional Planning Commission wrote in its 2014 Bike Share Feasibility Study & Business Plan.
With the city preparing to celebrate its 300th tricentennial in 2018, city officials intend to set up a new bike-sharing program in 2017. Like many cities across the country, they want to enable change in the way that residents and visitors move around the city.
Onvia first reported on bike sharing in 2014, and the potential for cities to capitalize on the trend is already in gear. In the Big Easy alone, there are already more bike-riders than any other major city in the South. Since 2005, bike ridership has more than tripled according to an April 2016 bid uncovered in Onvia’s business-to-government (B2G) intelligence system.
“The ultimate goal is to create a more sustainable transportation landscape that provides new mobility options for short trips and to improve connectivity to other modes of transportation,” Jared C. Brossett, chairman of the City Council Transportation and Airport Committee, said in an announcement about the RFP.
As cities like New Orleans are just getting started in their plans to implement a bike-sharing program, others around the country are approaching the challenges and opportunities that come with program maturity.
Mature Bike-Sharing Programs: Cities Face Challenges to Keep Programs Going
In recent years, bike-share programs in cities across the country have grown in popularity. And those cities with bike-sharing programs are learning how to deal with unexpected challenges.
Some cities have even had to foot the bill in their bike-share programs to keep them alive, such in the case of Seattle. The city was confronted with the challenge of spending $1.4 million to prop up its nonprofit-led Pronto bike-share program in order to keep it running as the Seattle Times reported in March 2016.
Interestingly, Onvia’s Spending Forecast Center revealed that Seattle has set aside $5 million in 2016 funds to expand its program. According to its adopted 2016-2021 Capital Improvement Plan, the program will increase to 250 stations with 2,500 bikes. Furthermore, the program will grow from five square miles of the city which currently serves only 14% of the population to 42 square miles to serve 62% of the population. As part of the program expansion, electric bikes will be included to support the hilly nature of the city and better connect riders to transit.
Spending Forecast Center shows the following 5 cities as having the most spending plans that mention bike-share services:
“E-bikes will help Seattleites and visitors traverse the many hills in the city and take longer trips,” according to the CIP.
Paul Demaio, Cofounder of MetroBike LLC reiterated the importance of good connections to transit for bike-sharing to succeed in a recent The Bike-Sharing Blog.
Two-wheel transit won’t reach its potential if it’s more bike than transit. It must be transit first and foremost that is on two wheels,Paul DeMaio, MetroBike LLC Cofounder
The Opportunity for Technology Vendors to Utilize Bike-Share Data
Bike-share programs don’t just benefit riders and traffic congestion, they also open up the door for smart cities to collect useful data. For example, the North American Bikeshare Association recently adopted real-time, open data standards for bike-shares. Uniform data sets will make it easier for technology vendors to build useful apps for both riders and government agencies.
Onvia’s database of historical contract awards shows one example of a vendor who won a contract to not only to implement a bike-sharing program, but also to provide a full technology backbone. BCYCLE, LLC, received a one-year, $963,206 contract in January 2016 from the Regional Transportation Commission of Southern Nevada. The program includes bikes, docking stations, and backend systems with software and technology to collect useful data.
Establishing an open data standard is an important step to making bikeshare ever more convenient and accessible to the public,North American Bike-Share Association Representative Mitch Vars
As Bike-Sharing Programs Mature, Contractors Can Win Long-Term Government Business
As the popularity of bike-sharing programs grow, cities are dealing with new challenges and only beginning to realize additional benefits which should mean plenty of related opportunities for years to come.
Contractors in multiple industries, such as technology, have the opportunity to win long-term government business by engaging with those government agencies who are already planning bike-share initiatives. Onvia’s Spending Forecast Center shows no shortage of outreach opportunities, with more than 9,000 budgets and spending plans that mention future spending related to bike-share services over the next five to six years.