Liza FarrBy Liza Farr, Associate Project Manager, Economic Development at Bi-State Development

Ever been stuck in traffic? Had trouble parking? Been too far away from your destination to take transit? If you’re thinking “yes” to at least one of these, I’ve got a solution that’ll solve all three issues at once. Two words: bike share.

Bike share is a network of shared bicycles available at stations throughout a city to check out, ride, and return to another station near your destination. Many of you have likely used bike share in other cities, as over 55 American cities have implemented bike share, from New York City and Chicago to Chattanooga, Tennessee and our neighbors in Kansas City.

Bike share is like the public library of transportation—you can check out a bike from any location throughout the city, use it for a short period of time, and return it to any location throughout the city, just like a library book. You get to enjoy the benefits of riding a bike without having to own one.

Cities with all types of weather, topography, size, and bike infrastructure have exceeded bike share ridership goals and received overwhelmingly positive feedback for their bike share programs. Potential benefits are multifold. The vast majority of bike share users have said that it has made their city a more enjoyable place to live. Because a large portion of bike share trips replace a car trip, they save millions of gallons of gasoline while generating positive environmental impacts.

Bike share has value as a first-mile connection and boost for transit ridership, too, since riders often use their bikes to access transit. Bike share users are more likely to spend money with businesses that sponsor bike share or are located near bike share stations.

Finally, bike share makes biking accessible and safe for all adults. Cities are striving to engage disadvantaged populations, potentially improving their access to public transit, saving them money, and improving their health.

But the biggest benefit—one that’s hard to survey or measure—is that people love bike share and have come to expect it in a city. It is especially loved by the talented professionals that companies in St. Louis are trying to attract, with its highest ridership in the 20- to 35-year-old category.

Here in St. Louis, we’ve been quietly plugging away on bike share while learning from all the cities that have implemented it before us. Great Rivers Greenway completed a bike share feasibility study in 2014 that concluded it would be a valuable asset in St. Louis.

Today, Bi-State Development is leading a group of stakeholders to plan, fundraise for, and implement a bike share program in St. Louis. We’ve submitted a grant application to fund the capital cost for the first phase, and we’re soliciting sponsors to support operational costs.

But we can’t do this alone. We need your help to decide where bike share should go in St. Louis. Do you think you’d use bike share? Take our survey and tell us why or why not. The survey will gather feedback on use of bike share, potential program barriers, and where you’d like to see bike share stations.

You are the customer, so we need to hear from you to create the best environment- and money-saving, health-improving, option-providing, access-granting, smile-inducing bike share system for St. Louis.

Please contact Liza Farr (ejfarr@bistatedev.org, 314-982-1400 x1736) with questions, or if you’d like paper copies of the survey.

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Liza moved to St. Louis in August 2016. She manages projects on transit-oriented development and bike/pedestrian planning for Bi-State Development, including leading the effort to bring bike share to St. Louis. Liza grew up in Lawrence, Kansas but comes to St. Louis from California, where she graduated from Claremont McKenna College with a B.A. in Environment, Economics, and Politics. She previously worked in the San Francisco Bay Area on environmental permitting, transit-oriented development, and bike/pedestrian planning.

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Articles in “From the Field” represent the opinions of the author only and do not represent the views of the Community Builders Network of Metro St. Louis or the University of Missouri-St. Louis.