The Resilience of Bikeshare

The inherent simplicity of bikes makes shared mobility systems a crucial transportation option during natural disasters.

2 minute read

October 4, 2022, 10:00 AM PDT

By Diana Ionescu @aworkoffiction

Man with leather messenger bag riding CitiBike bike on New York street

SeaRick1 / New York's CitiBike

Writing for Bloomberg CityLab, John Surico praises the value of municipal bikeshare systems, which can provide a transportation lifeline during natural disasters or other crises. When Hurricane Ida flooded New York City’s subway system, Surico—and tens of thousands of other New Yorkers—turned to the Citi Bike bikeshare system to get around.

“The nation’s largest bikeshare system clocked 126,360 trips the day after Ida — then the highest in its eight-year history — as bike lanes swarmed with stranded passengers like me,” Surico writes, noting that this held true in other situations. 

Citi Bike also broke records this summer during a brutal heat wave that kept subway stations sweltering. When Tube workers went on strike in London in June, Santander Cycles, the city’s bikeshare system, saw riders flocking to it. In Washington, D.C., the Metro’s 2016 repairs led to a 6% increase in ridership for Capital Bikeshare (or CaBi, for short).

The relative simplicity of bikes and bikeshare, Surico writes, “can be particularly useful when other modes are sidelined.” This is why Surico argues that city officials and transit agencies should pay more attention to bikes and the needs of bike users and work to make bikeshare and transit systems complement and support each other.

Jascha Franklin-Hodge, the chief of streets for Boston, noted that the city’s Bluebike bikeshare system was a key alternative for Bostonians when the Orange Line shut down for repairs in August. The city made the system free during the shutdown to ease the transition for commuters. “If you don’t think of bikes as transportation, you will not do the things you need to do to make it a good alternative during a transportation crisis,” Franklin-Hodge said.

Tuesday, October 4, 2022 in Bloomberg CityLab

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