The Little Bike-Share That Could

Chattanooga didn't let its small population, sprawling environment, and weak cycling culture prevent the city from implementing a small-scale bike-share system. Their experience could hold lessons for other small cities that want jump in the saddle.
Machine is Organic / Flickr

After studying the possibility of implementing a bike-share system beginning in 2007, Chattanooga, Tennessee (pop. 170,000) was able to cobble together enough funding and support to launch a 30 station, 300 bike system last July, beating larger cities like New York and Chicago in the process, writes Angie Schmitt. Chattanooga Bike Coordinator Philip Pugliese discussed the city's experiences last week at the New Partners for Smart Growth Conference in Kansas City.

“Our purpose with bike-sharing was to put a large amount of cyclists on the street in a short time, to change the dynamic, to improve our air quality, our health and active transportation overall,” he said.

"It can be difficult to launch bike-share in a small city with a transportation system that is heavily reliant on car travel, Pugliese said. But Chattanooga’s experience can offer inspiration to other small cities."

"In its first six months of operation, the system has provided 12,600 rides. Together, riders burned more than one million calories. All those bike trips have resulted in up to a 8,100-pound reduction in emissions. The system will add three more stations in residential neighborhoods in the spring," adds Schmitt.

"Securing enough capital to keep the system going through the lean start-up years is important, especially in smaller markets, where programs may find themselves on weaker financial footing than in larger cities, Pugliese said. He said the city considers the system an experimental pilot project."

Full Story: Chattanooga Bike-Share: Lessons for Smaller Cities

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