Let's face it; America is undergoing a major outbreak of bike-share.
Earlier this month, the wildly popular Capital Bikeshare (CaBi) in the Washington, DC, region hit a new record, with more than 11,000 rides taken in a single day. Two weeks ago, in just two days, New York's Citi Bike signed up more than 5,000 members for its inaugural year, far surpassing its initial goal. That's more than double the number of members who signed up for DC's CaBi when it launched in 2010. In the Midwest, Chicago's Divvy program is slated to put its bikes on the road this June, and Mayor Emanuel has promised to make Chicago the "best big city in America for cycling."
As of April 2013, there were 41 cities in the United States have or are launching bike-shares, and that number is only expected to increase in the coming years. So here at DOT, we've taken to calling 2013 the Year of the Bike Share.
But, with all of those folks across the country using bicycles as a way of getting where they need to go, we need to make sure we're doing what we can to keep them safe.
That's why we held our second Bike Safety Summit yesterday in Minneapolis. We wanted to get planners, safety experts, engineers, educators--anyone with something to add to the safety discussion--together in one place to share what we know about protecting bicyclists. Then, we can take those ideas back to communities across the nation.
Doing this in Minneapolis just made sense. Bike ridership in Minneapolis has skyrocketed, up 56 percent in the last six years. The Nice Ride bike-share has been a big success, with nearly 600,000 trips taken since 2010. And--bucking a worrisome national trend--the number of bicyclists killed in motor vehicle crashes in Minneapolis has actually declined.
At DOT, we’ve been proud to be their partner. Using our bike and pedestrian pilot program, Minneapolis has built new trails, like the Riverlake Greenway. Cyclists are riding along protected lanes marked with green paint and separated routes with differentiated bike signals. These steps make bikes easier to see, helping avoid conflicts and reduce accidents.
The City's educational efforts have been equally active, with safety PSAs and new posters encouraging drivers and bikers alike to share the road.
And they’ve passed and promoted good laws that protect cyclists. Drivers need to stay three feet away from cyclists, and they have to check for cyclists before opening their car door. Bicyclists in other cities are far too familiar with the risk of being "doored" by a parked car; in Minneapolis, leaders like Mayor Tom Rybak have taken steps to lower that risk.
As a result, Minneapolis is one of the most bike friendly cities in America, showing the rest of the country what’s possible when it comes to bikes.
Now it's time to learn from their success, and from other effective approaches to protecting bicyclists. Our bike summits in Tampa and Minneapolis this spring must be just the beginning of a sustained effort nationwide to ensure that all user of our roadways can travel in confidence and safety.