Are bicycles the new cars? If you lived in Washington, D.C. or New York City, you would almost think so, given the recent popularity of Capital Bikeshare and Citi Bike. Similar to Zipcar, these increasingly popular bikeshare services allow a rider to pick up a bike in one location, pay for its temporary use, and then drop it off at his/her destination.
Our nation’s capital has a history of encouraging bicycle use, establishing a program back in the 1970s for free bike parking in local parking garages, for example. Though it remains a conceptual project, a parking design competition in Chicago in the early 2000s featured a solution titled Filter Garden by Leven Betts Studio for a parking facility that spanned the highway, providing bicycles for completion of the trip into the center of the city. Other major metropolitan areas such as San Francisco and Los Angeles are also designing streets for increasing ridership, following the path of Portland, OR, which has led the way. Asian and European cities, such as Tokyo, Amsterdam, and Copenhagen, are often miles ahead even of the Portland pack.
But Long Island is different. Most areas are too far away from New York City to make bike commuting feasible. Commuting to the local rail stations by bicycle, as riders do on Tokyo’s subway or San Francisco’s BART trains, could be an option, solving a very small piece of the transportation puzzle. Long Beach, NY, launched a pioneering bikeshare program in 2012, which includes a bike station/kiosk at the local Long Island Rail Road station.
People are using bicycles for transportation. To encourage that use and expand ridership, we need to continually develop solutions to existing obstacles, from weather to parking to human behavior (i.e., what would it take for you to consider biking to work?). Providing affordable and appealing alternatives to the car is key to transportation’s sustainable future.