Seeking Stimulus Money For Bike Sharing, D.C. Looks Beyond Cutting CO2

The Transportation Planning Board (TPB), the Washington D.C. area’s metropolitan planning organization (MPO), recently made a pitch to the U.S. DOT for a share of the economic stimulus law’s $1.5 billion in innovative transport grants. Among the suggested projects was $13 million for bike sharing, enough to expand the D.C. program into a regional network that would use wi-fi internet to guide travelers.

smartbikeposter21.jpgOne of D.C.’s bike sharing terminals. (Photo: Streetfilms)

How did the TPB make the case for federal help with bike-share expansion? At a Capitol briefing held yesterday by the Environmental and Energy Study Institute, TPB planning director Ron Kirby laid out his numbers [PDF].

TPB
found that expanding bike-share would pay for itself nearly three times
over during the next 20 years, yielding $625 million in benefits at a
cost of $231 million. But Kirby emphasized that the estimated emissions
reductions of more bike sharing represented a relatively small share of
its total benefits.

The project "would not be beneficial on
CO2 alone," Kirby said, adding that the potential time and trip-cost
savings of bike-share played a key role in TPB’s proposal.

"Many of these projects have multiple
benefits, and we need to approach it that way," he added.

Kirby
and Caitlin Rayman, assistant secretary for policy at the Maryland DOT,
used the briefing to outline their area’s plans to make transportation
networks less carbon-dependent and more efficient.

Rayman,
however, stressed that not every MPO or state DOT has the experience
and skills needed to craft effective plans for cutting transportation
emissions — plans that would be legally mandated by the pending congressional climate change bills.

Should
the climate bill provision become law, Rayman said, states and MPOs
should receive "technical assistance from the federal government" on
the process. "I can’t see [it] being a good strategy for state plans or
MPO plans to get rejected," Rayman said.

With the dialogue in Washington starting to consider a substantial future role for MPOs — check out Mark Muro, Matt Yglesias, and Streetsblog coverage from last week for more on this — support appears to be growing for a dedicated federal role in assisting metro area planners.

  • ZA

    Fine, so long as there’s a reasonable revenue stream to sustain the program after it’s been capitalized and built.

  • Kerri

    Bike sharing is a great alternative to driving and investing in your own bike because it saves money and promotes healthy lifestyles. Plus, it pays for itself in the long run, as the article said:

    “TPB found that expanding bike-share would pay for itself nearly three times over during the next 20 years, yielding $625 million in benefits at a cost of $231 million.”

    This is such a great system, yet it’s highly unrecognized. If it’s successful in Europe there’s no reason why the same can’t happen in the U.S.

    Instead of taking the bus riders can ride a bike instead and beat traffic while staying in shape. My friend rides her bike to work and gets awesome commuter benefits through her employer. She mentioned Commuter Nation and it seems like a win-win! http://www.commuternation.com

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From London to D.C., Bike-Sharing Is Safer Than Riding Your Own Bike

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People riding shared public bicycles appear to be involved in fewer traffic crashes and receive fewer injuries than people riding their personal bicycles. In cities from Paris and London to Washington, D.C. and Mexico City, something about riding a shared bicycle appears to make cycling safer. Paris’s Vélib’ is perhaps the most iconic bike-sharing system […]