What Mayors Think About Bike Sharing

Mayors across the U.S. agree: improving bike accessibility in cities is a key priority. This was revealed in a recent survey of U.S. mayors, which amassed the most important challenges and goals facing mayors and their cities today. The 2015 Menino Survey of Mayors divides infrastructure goals into two categories: “big ticket” priority projects and “small” infrastructure projects. The classic big ticket areas of needed improvement were represented: mass transit, roads and water infrastructure. What topped the small project list? Improving bike accessibility. The survey, released in January by the U.S. Conference of Mayors in partnership with the Boston University Initiative on Cities, is the only nationally representative survey of U.S. mayors, with responses from 89 mayors in 31 states. As cities grow both in size and importance across the nation, the survey aims to show mayors’ perspectives on key policy issues, thus providing significant insights into trends and priorities.

According to the survey, 70 percent of mayors support improving bike accessibility in their city, even at the expense of parking and driving lanes. In fact, cycling emerged as a priority for mayors more generally with bipartisan support (albeit to varying degrees). When mayors were asked what one small infrastructure project they would fund, improving biking and pedestrian infrastructure beat out parks, roads and city building improvements.

Notably, the responses to the question concerning small infrastructure project priorities did not vary significantly by city size. At Zagster, we have been working towards expanding access to bikes in all kinds of markets including universities and smaller cities. When bike sharing first took off, it was seen as a luxury only suitable for larger cities. It is a significant step to see mayors of cities of all sizes acknowledging the benefits that access to bikes can bring.

The survey also revealed that mayors tend to generate policies by looking at a wide variety of other cities. That is certainly a victory for the bike space more generally and the bike sharing space specifically. It is tough to keep up with all of bike sharing’s success stories these days with more than 120 cities in the U.S. alone adding systems in 2015. As cities without systems watch cities that have taken the leap reduce road congestion, lower air pollution and provide additional health benefits for their citizens, it is not surprising that the desire to mimic is there.

Nonetheless, the survey revealed general concerns by cities about too little financial support from state and federal governments. Not surprisingly, funding affects the proliferation of bike sharing systems as well. But there have been some signs of improvements on at least the bike sharing front: Reps Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.) and Vern Buchanan (R-Fla.) recently introduced legislation to provide an established federal funding source for bike share programs. Hopefully the support of improving access to bikes voiced in this survey will help propel action both on the legislation and on other funding efforts throughout the country.

Learn More

Want to run a better bike share? Check out the free Guide to Running a Bike Share here.

Zagster’s planning, launch and operations teams are experienced in managing on-demand bike share networks. 

Get in touch with us to learn more about how we can help you in planning or implementing a bike share program.