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Public Engagement and Bike Share Planning

New York and Chicago asked residents to suggest sites for new docking stations. Most were not put at those locations, but that doesn’t mean collecting public input is not a useful and important part of the planning process, say researchers.
January 22, 2019, 8am PST | Camille Fink
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study about bikeshare and public participation shows that most docking stations are not sited in locations recommended by the public. New York solicited input for its 2014–2015 expansion, and just 5 percent of new stations were built near the 2,000 sites suggested. In Chicago, 10 percent of new docking stations were near locations recommended through an interactive online map.

But, these findings do not necessarily indicate that public officials and planners do not consider public input, say researchers Greg Griffin and Junfeng Jiao. Many considerations go into the design of a bikeshare system, including prioritizing gaps in the network, finding locations where stations can be placed, and contending with public resistance to proposed dock sites.

Griffin and Jiao say that their analysis provides useful lessons for cities about engaging residents. "The online maps enabled residents to take direct action in planning their cities, rather than just commenting on the ideas of planners—or waking up to discover a docking station had been built outside their door," they note.

In addition, they say engagement efforts that leave records, such as the bikeshare ones in New York and Chicago, allow researchers to better understand the outcomes and effectiveness of public outreach.

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Published on Monday, January 14, 2019 in CityLab
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