Day #060: Bike share for Richmond2015

Richmond 2015 is exactly one year away! What small steps can RVA take to be the best version of itself before riding on to the world’s stage?

Inspired by Michael Bierut’s 100 Day Project, 100 Days to a Better RVA strives to introduce and investigate unique ideas to improving the city of Richmond. View the entire project here and the intro here.

  • Idea: Create a temporary or permanent bike share program before the 2015 UCI Road World Championships.
  • Difficulty: 1 — The potential for success seems fairly high for a project involving either city government or private industry.

Exactly one year from today, 450,000 visitors from around the world are expected to descend upon Richmond for the 2015 Union Cycliste Internationale Road World Cycling Championships. The Richmond community needs to make the next 52 weeks matter. One small project that could prepare the city for the event is a bike share system.

Bike shares allow riders to check out bikes with a membership, credit card, or small cash deposit. Riders can borrow and return the bikes at multiple locations and the aim is to create a comprehensive system. Costs are intentionally low or free during the first 30-45 minutes to promote their use as a transit option.

The bikes can help solve the “last mile problem” around buses. For example, if a bus drops people off near Monroe Park but they want to watch a part of the race in the heart of the Fan, grabbing a bike in the park is easier than waiting for the next bus. Safety concerns some, but Boston rents helmets1 and dangers have been overstated.2

VCU and University of Richmond already have small-scale successful bike shares, but VCU only has two stations and UR is outside of the footprint. A bike share made the cut from over 300 ideas to 55 in the RVA Sustainability Plan (PDF), but plans are different than action.

As visitors from around the world come to Richmond for the very first time, it’s tough to imagine them not being shocked by the lack of efficient public transportation. The recent addition of Uber should help mitigate some of that, but it won’t be enough on its own.

This event is a once in a decade opportunity for this city, but RVA has not made enough progress over the last three years to make the most of the opportunity. While Mayor Dwight C. Jones’s baseball plans have consumed thousands of man hours, countless political capital, and valuable time, key projects around the river, in public transportation, and bike infrastructure have been neglected.

A bike share program doesn’t need to be executed by the city government, and it doesn’t need to be permanent. The opportunity seems highly profitable, and it could attract an entrepreneurial team eager to cash in on tourists who are usually the biggest customers of bike shares.

Putting a bike share before real infrastructure is putting the horse before the cart, but with 365 days left on the calendar, it’s one of the few achievable ideas that will take this city to the next level before it’s on the world’s stage. I’m excited to share this city that I love with the world (just watch this hype video). It’s time to switch gears and re-up our commitment to being the best version of RVA for Richmond 2015.

Love this idea? Think it’s terrible? Have one that’s ten times better? Head over to the 100 Days to a Better RVA Facebook page and join in the conversation.

Photo by: mclcbooks

  1. Although a majority of bike fatalities are caused by injuries other than head trauma. The best way to protect cyclists is with smart infrastructure, policy, rider accountability, and driver accountability. 
  2. In London for example, there have only been ten injuries in the last 1.6 million rides, and there have been no major injuries or deaths in over 4.5 million trips. The Washington Post also did a hatchet job on a popular analysis that has since been discredited. 
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Aaron Williams

Aaron Williams loves music, basketball (follow @rvaramnews!), family, learning, and barbecue sauce.

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