Murphy says, “We wanted to answer the question of whether the Dayton region was
ready for bike sharing. What we found from our research is that the answer is yes.”
With bronze-level recognition from the League of American Bicyclists already in hand, Bike Miami Valley has their eye on the prize of making Dayton one of the most bike-friendly cities around. What’s exciting is that they’re taking the steps needed to make it more than a good idea.
This Friday at an afternoon session of the Miami Valley Cycling Summit, Scott Murphy – one of the volunteers leading the bike share effort – will present the results of an in-depth feasibility study that 1) surveyed citizen interest and 2) examined regional data to determine if the region could sustain a bike share.
The more obvious of the two questions is that our community is excited by a bike share. Bike Miami Valley’s survey demonstrated that there is strong support among local young professionals for the concept (98%) and high interest in using the system (74%). This writer’s first guess was that it was mostly current cyclists answering (of course they want it), but the survey reached out into a much wider community. Over 54% of survey respondents don’t currently use a bike for transportation (and an additional 30% only use a bike “sometimes”). What would they think about a bike share? When broken out to the current non-riders – 80% support a bike share and over 50% are likely to use it. The survey went into a lot more detail – where would you ride, what kind of trips would be appropriate for bike share, when are you likely to ride, etc. This data was used to better determine how a bike share in Dayton would look and will be featured as part of the Cycling Summit presentation.
So – the people want to ride. But wanting something (see previous stories on grocery stores, music halls, etc) doesn’t mean that downtown has the infrastructure to support it.
Or does it?
Yes, it does.
Part two of the feasibility study focuses on the current infrastructure, population density, retail density, and other important factors that demonstrate bike share readiness. Note– current state of being. Bike Miami Valley doesn’t argue that if a few more shops come downtown or if more people move in, we could handle it. Downtown Dayton is ready now.
The team analyzed a two-county region to see where the ideal bike share area may be. They considered population, shopping, restaurants/bars, tourist attractions, topography, and many other factors to see where the greatest critical mass for bike share exists. The bike share demand analysis found a four square mile area around downtown Dayton that’s ideal (north to Dayton Art Institute, west to Wright-Dunbar, east to St. Anne’s Hill, south to University of Dayton). This area includes a high population density and retail, an abundance of university students, current bike lanes, trails and infrastructure, connections to the RTA bus system and a relatively flat topography.
In addition to looking at the factors that would make Dayton successful, they ran the same analysis against other cities that already have bike shares (San Antonio, TX, Boulder, CO, Chattanooga, TN and others). How does Dayton stack up? We’re equal (and in some cases higher) on most of the factors linked to successful bike shares around the country. “We were surprised to learn that our bike share demand is actually higher in Dayton than in other cities that have sustained bike sharing,” says Andy Williamson, another Bike Miami Valley volunteer who helped lead the effort.
So – the people want it and the region can sustain it. But Bike Miami Valley isn’t done yet.
“For cities that have started bike shares, the first step is always addressing the feasibility,” says Murphy. Next steps include conversations with community stakeholders to share the results and to collaborate on a business plan analysis to finalize the station locations, choose an operational model, and identify sources of funds. The feasibility study includes an proposed analysis from the team’s work applying industry standards to size the bike share network, identify possible station locations, and estimate the capital and operational costs.
Although membership will help to sustain the bike share, many cities have secured federal grants to partially fund the start-up and operations costs and sponsorships and advertising are an easy fit. The Bike Miami Valley team proposes a model where riders join with a daily, monthly and yearly membership with the swipe of a credit card at any of the bike stations. Members can take unlimited 30-minutes rides around the service area with no additional usage fees. Revenue estimates show the transportation system could approach self-sustainment from user fares as early as five years after the launch. “Bike sharing has already proven to be more self-sustaining than other forms of public transit,” says Williamson. “Fare revenue covers a much greater percentage of the annual operating cost than the national average for rail or bus transportation.”
It’s a good idea, and with this volunteer team it’s a lot more than that.
Get all the details (and see the data, charts, maps, etc) when they unveil the feasibility study results at the Cycling Summit this Friday.