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Raleigh BikeShare Rolls Into Town

Good news, everyone! Last week, the Raleigh City Council approved the proposal for the Raleigh Bike Share with an 8-1 vote. Oaks and Spokes, WakeUP Wake County, and many other individuals and organizations worked tirelessly to raise this project’s visibility, and the City Council’s overwhelming support is evidence of our ability to affect change at the local level. However, the process of realizing the Raleigh BikeShare’s full potential is still in its infancy. Moving forward, here are some of the benefits and challenges we will likely encounter as the Raleigh BikeShare becomes a reality.

 

First, we would like to thank the City Council for supporting this new addition to Raleigh transit system. As we implement the Raleigh BikeShare, Raleigh will join twenty-seven other US cities as a transportation innovator. Having reviewed bike share programs across the country, we are confident that Raleigh’s BikeShare, which will serve citizens from all across our city, will stimulate our local economy and improve the quality of living in our city. By replacing cars or pedestrian travel for short trips and providing a “last mile solution” for those citizens who use other forms of public transit, the BikeShare will have Raleigh moving in a whole new way.

 

We applaud our representatives for understanding that the Raleigh BikeShare is an addition to the city’s infrastructure. As such, the costs associated with the Raleigh BikeShare should be considered relative to the costs of other elements of our city’s infrastructure. The $438,000 operating cost, which we believe will be largely subsidized by our community partners, is nothing to sneeze at. However, the price tag looks a bit more reasonable beside the adopted budget for parking in the 2015-16 fiscal year, which was $17,849,615, or forty times as much. The cost seems less outlandish next to the numbers for stormwater management, which received $17,748,688 in the 2015-16 budget. We’re not here to criticize these programs; rather, we hope that these numbers help concerned citizens put the price of this new piece of infrastructure into context.

 

We agree with the Council’s conviction that the Raleigh BikeShare must be a transportation solution. For our citizens who use the bus system or park in remote decks, it makes that last mile to work shorter. For others, it offers an alternative to the hassle of congestion and parking for short trips. For those without cars, either by choice or by necessity, the Raleigh BikeShare opens doors across the city. Students from Peace and Shaw suddenly have time for lunch downtown. Young professionals and families in the Glenwood and Forest Hills neighborhoods no longer waste time circling Cameron Village parking lots. Stations on South Person and South Blount provide access across Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard, opening yet another gateway to work and play in downtown Raleigh.

 

Finally, we reaffirm our commitment to making the Raleigh BikeShare accessible to citizens all across our city by addressing issues of location and cost. According to a 2013 publication in the Institute of Transportation Engineers Journal, bike programs that are most successful in low-income communities place stations in those communities, deploy targeted advertisements in those communities, recruit workers from those communities, and even work with local nonprofits to subsidize membership costs. The Raleigh BikeShare should strive to be equitable infrastructure; a moral bike sharing program cannot ignore those citizens who face some of the most challenging transportation problems. Nationally, bike shares have begun to help us rethink who bicycles are for. A 2011 study in Transportation Research points out that bike share users do not fit the profile of area cyclists. They are younger. They are more likely to be women. They have lower household incomes than private bike owners, and they are more likely to cycle for utility. Whether a bicycle offers relief from an unsustainable car payment or shortens the last mile, we insist that the Raleigh BikeShare can and must serve the needs of those citizens in Raleigh’s low-income communities. We look forward to working with invested members of the City Council and local partners to help increase accessibility by emphasizing the Raleigh BikeShare’s convenience and value.

 
The road to last week’s council decision has been long, but the journey is not over. If we want the Raleigh BikeShare to be successful, impactful, and equitable, we must all continue to contribute. Whether we are members of the Raleigh City Council, volunteers for Oaks and Spokes, or stakeholders with local partners, it is up to us to decide what the Raleigh BikeShare will be.

Kathryn Zeringue Talks Bike Share

Over the next few weeks, we’ll be interviewing some local leaders and transportation specialists to get their thoughts on the Raleigh Bike Share. These interviews aren’t an investigation into feasibility; we already know that Raleigh is a good fit for a bike share! Instead, these conversations give us the chance to get an in-depth look at what the bike share might mean for different parts of our community. For our first interview, Jacob Clayton, an Oaks and Spokes volunteer and lecturer in the English Department at NCSU, interviewed Kathryn Zeringue, NCSU’s Transportation Demand Manager.

INTERVIEW #1: Kathryn Zeringue

Kathryn Zeringue looks at the camera from on top of of her black road bicycle in a parking lot.
Kathryn Zeringue, Transportation Demand Manager at NCSU

Kathryn Zeringue is the Transportation Demand Manager at North Carolina State University(1). As the TDM at NCSU, Zeringue promotes carpooling, vanpooling, walking, carsharing, ridesharing, and, of course, bicycling. Having lived in Raleigh, N.C., Blacksburg, Va. and the cycling hub of Austin, Texas, she knows a bit about transportation cycling. I sat down with Zeringue to talk about what the Raleigh Bike Share might mean for our community last Wednesday morning.

Zeringue currently lives in Durham, and she commutes to Raleigh every day by bus. Her bus drops her off on Hillsborough Street, at which point she walks a little over a mile to her office on Sullivan Drive. The practicality of the bike share is obvious to Zeringue; having a bicycle available on Hillsborough street would provide a “last mile solution,” effectively shortening many university employees’ commutes every morning.

NC State students also stand to benefit from the Raleigh Bike Share program, Zeringue argues. It could “give students a lot more choices” in terms of engaging with businesses and events downtown. Many NC State students don’t bring cars to campus, and the GoRaleigh bus system can be intimidating for students who aren’t familiar with public transit. As an instructor at NC State, I know first-hand how disconnected many first-year students feel from downtown, and, with dining and recreation facilities on campus, it’s easy for students to avoid the larger city entirely. The Raleigh Bike Share could be one step in establishing a corridor between students and Raleigh’s thriving downtown. Restaurants, museums, and arts venues get student business, and students get a chance to plug into Raleigh-based companies as they consider their professional futures.

The university has a long history of cooperating with the City of Raleigh to make the city and the campus friendlier to cyclists. NC State’s transportation planners face some unusual, jurisdiction-based challenges when adding to existing infrastructure, but, according to Zeringue, “most of the success [NC State has] had getting bike lanes in has been with the city of Raleigh.” With five bike share stations planned on NC State’s campus, the potential for future collaboration between the university and the city seems high. At this point, the university, like many of our community partners, seems to be waiting for the city to put forward a plan.

Zeringue also sees opportunities for bike share use during Raleigh’s lengthy festival season. During major festivals like Hopscotch, SparkCon and the Oaks and Spokes festival, commuters might be attracted to transportation alternatives that don’t require consulting transit schedules, fighting for parking spots, or detouring around closed-off streets. Other cities have already seen the mutually beneficial relationship between festivals and bike shares. Austin B-Cycle, for example, set their single-day record with 3,032 checkouts during the 2015 SXSW festival.

I closed out our interview by asking what advice NC State’s Transportation Demand Manager has for the Raleigh’s elected officials as they consider whether or not to support the bike share program. Our leadership should “[build] spaces for people, not for vehicles” and “understand the value in prioritizing transportation projects that promote community,” she said. “A bike share could do that.”

 

Remember, this is the first of a number of O&S Bike Share Interviews. Check back regularly for more discussions with leaders from all corners of our community!

 

(1) The opinions expressed in this interview are not intended to reflect institutional policies or commitments on the part of North Carolina State University.

Warm Your Buns: Oaks & Spokes’ Winter Fundraiser

FlyWheel

It is frigid outside. Take a break from the icy breeze of you bike commute and come Warm Your Buns with Oaks & Spokes at an indoor Happy Hour Ride benefiting our 2015 Spring Festival. The ride will take place at FlyWheel, Raleigh’s newest indoor cycling location. FlyWheel’s classes are incredibly fun featuring custom playlists, and allowing each individual to challenge themselves at whatever level they choose.

Date/Time:
Friday, January 23rd
6:30 – 8:30pm (ride begins promptly at 7pm!)

Location:
Fly Wheel Sports
402 Oberlin Road, Suite 104
Raleigh, NC 27605

Please join us at 6:30pm to check in, get ready, buy raffle tickets and socialize. The ride will start promptly at 7pm, and will be followed by a Happy Hour with snacks and drinks provided by local sponsors.

Attendees must register in advance, here is how:
Bikes are limited, so remember to buy your ticket in advance! Reserve them by:
1. Creating an Account at Flywheel at www.flywheelsports.com (remember your username as you will need it to provide it in step 2)
2. Filling out the following google form: http://goo.gl/forms/4E2JbhKyMN
3. Donating what you would like, and are able to, at or above $20 via paypal to: info@oaksandspokes.com

All proceeds will go directly towards the Oaks & Spokes’ Third Annual Bicycling Festival to be hosted in Downtown Raleigh, Spring of 2015.

 

Thank you to our generous sponsors for supporting cycling in Raleigh!

Crank Arm Brewing Company, Lucettegrace, BREW, Brixx Pizza – Cameron Village, Edge of Urge, Night Kitchen Bakehouse & Cafe & of course FlyWheel Sports Raleigh

More Yarn: Wrapping Raleigh in Color

yarnbombrack

 

Have I mentioned how much I am into this? These are popping up on signs and racks all over downtown, adding some much needed color to what has been an overly grey season. While it’s great having the city work with us to provide more cycling infrastructure, it’s even better that citizens are working to make them more beautiful. Keep on rocking, Raleigh.