PWPB2012 preview: Public Bike Sharing
|People chatting at a demo bike share station in New York City / Photo: Planetgordon.com via Flickr|
Nearly a year ago, the National Center for Bicycling & Walking, and Project for Public Spaces became one. Since then, in the ventures that followed, the perspectives of each organization have meshed (often) and clashed (sometimes) leading to the present day in which walking and bicycling are being embraced as place-building tools, and vice-versa. Beyond the good of bringing more people to appreciate the community building role of walking and biking, there’s another nice benefit: I get to reprint their stuff!
Below is an article that appeared last week on pps.org. In it, Brendan quite literally makes the connection between biking and place.
Three Reasons That Bikeshare Stations Are Ideal Triangulators
- They’re natural conversation-starters: You can’t participate in bike share without visiting a bike share station. Stations bring people together around a common interest, giving them an opportunity and a reason to communicate with people they might not otherwise meet. Being that they serve as nodes in a transportation system, these stations also have a moderate sense of urgency to them: everyone there is trying to get somewhere else. This lowers the barrier-to-entry for casual social interaction for people on the shyer end of the spectrum, since it’s easy to smile and say “Nice helmet!” or “It’s a great day for a ride!” to someone as you both hop on bikes. Since instances of social interaction lead to a desire for greater contact, bike share stations make for happier, more social public spaces overall.
- They attract a stream of diverse users at all times of day & night: A truly great place facilitates a mix of uses over time; if there’s nothing to keep a space active at night, it can create uncomfortable or even unsafe conditions for passersby, and detract from the entire community. Bike share stations ensure a steady flow of people through a space even after dark, keeping “eyes on the street” and making other constructive after-hours uses more likely. This extends the usefulness of a place as a social hub for the surrounding community.
- They act as casual landmarks that concentrate activity: Bike share stations, with their colorful bikes and signage, help to make a place more comfortable and navigable for people who might not be familiar with a neighborhood. Think of the relief you felt the last time you were walking around, lost, and stumbled onto a subway or bus station; transit nodes help to re-orient us when we get turned around, chipping away at the sense of alienation that sometimes accompanies visiting a new place. The visual impact of these stations is also great for surrounding businesses and attractions, as the identifying signage and maps often highlight nearby points of interest.