Last month, two congressional cyclists took a major step towards giving bikesharing the federal recognition it has long deserved. In a rare show of congressional bipartisanship, Reps Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.) and Vern Buchanan (R-Fla.) introduced legislation to provide an established federal funding source for bikeshare programs. “America is in the middle of a bikeshare revolution,” explained Blumenauer. “Removing barriers faced by new and existing bikeshare programs is important to providing choice and adding value to our existing transportation network.”
Although bikesharing has increased rapidly in the United States in the past decade—just in the last year, Zagster alone added nearly 2000 bikes (!)—the absence of established funding sources has created a “gray area,” in the words of Rep. Blumenauer, for bikeshare systems and transportation officials. In other words, since ‘bikeshare’ is not a codified term, funds that could assist with the proliferation of bikeshare systems are often earmarked elsewhere as a result of uncertainty.
Under the Bikeshare Transit Act, ‘bikesharing’ would be introduced into existing laws to allow for the use of federal transportation funds and would be listed as an eligible project under the Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement Program. This would remove both uncertainty and key barriers to the expansion of bikesharing systems across the U.S.
Not surprisingly, this development has received wide support among the bikesharing community and we here at Zagster are eagerly adding our support to the mix. In introducing the bill, Rep. Buchanan pointed out what we have long seen proven by the systems that we put in place across the country: “bikeshare programs help people stay active, promote a clean environment and are good for the economy.”
The benefits of bikeshare programs should not be underestimated. As cities across the U.S. (and across the globe) turn to bikesharing and more research on the benefits accompanies that expansion, more and more signals are pointing towards bikesharing as one of the key solutions for the future. Cities are watching their programs reduce road congestion and lower air pollution, while providing additional health benefits for their citizens.
The best part of this legislation? It underscores the importance of expanding access to biking as a regular form of transportation. This has been Zagster’s core mission from the get-go. We are taking bikesharing beyond the big cities and bringing it to universities, communities and smaller cities to make the benefits of bikesharing accessible to all.
So props to Reps Blumenauer and Buchanan. Let’s keep this rolling!