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Monday, February 11, 2013

Bike Chattanooga Featured on Streetsblog DC

Though not a totally infrequent occurrence, it's always nice to see Tennessee in the Streetsblog feed.  Today's article about Chattanooga as a case study in bike sharing strikes a few points that are very relevant to small- and mid-sized cities planning or implementing bike share programs.   Chattanooga Bicycle Coordinator (& BWT Board Member) Phil Pugliese was interviewed for the article:

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.

Pugliese and other project leaders in Chattanooga recognized from the beginning that Bike Chattanooga would be used most heavily by tourists and downtown workers making short trips, rather than commuters, who are often target users in other, larger programs.  As is typical for a mid-size southern city, the majority of Chattanooga residents live outside the city center and drive to work alone.  According to Census data, only 0.1% of people bike to work, and 0% walk to work.  Zero percent!  The existing behavior of driving for virtually every trip creates a tepid pedestrian culture and uncertain market for bike share...but Chattanooga did it anyway.

Bikes at the weekly bike commuter breakfast.
We did it because bike share is an initiatory attempt to change that super pesky assumption that driving makes sense for every trip.  The message is to leave your car in the parking garage- that lunch break is faster by bike.  Have fun, on a bike!  See the city a better way (by bike).  Tennessee has made progress in bike share, with the recent launch of Nashville B-cycle and a bike share feasibility study completed in Memphis.  Early recognition that the opportunities and limitations are different in  Chattanooga than in Boston/Chicago/NYC will help the smaller cities take advantage of this technology at the proper scale.


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