Federal law doesn’t define bikeshare programs as public transportation, which means they aren’t eligible for the sustained funding that most transit is. If a new bill becomes a law, that would change.
Representatives Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.) and Vern Buchanan (R-Fla.), both members of the Congressional Bike Caucus, introduced the Bikeshare Transit Act last week. The law would make bikeshare eligible for funds dedicated to public transportation, clearing up confusion that both local communities and the Department of Transportation often face when it comes to keeping bikeshare programs up and running.
There are more than 50 bikeshare programs in the U.S., with Washington, D.C.'s Capital Bikeshare being the biggest. While many were started with federal money, funding continued operations has been a challenge. The Bikeshare Transit Act will help pay for everything from bike repairs and keeping rebalancing vans on the road to system expansions and new technology.
In addition to defining bikeshare as public transportation, the bill proposes to make bikeshare an eligible project under the Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement Program, which supports surface transportation efforts that work to improve air quality. Since bikes are powered by people and emit no pollution, it makes sense for bikeshare programs to receive CMAQ funding.
The American Planning Association is one of many organizations that support this bill.
“Bikeshare programs are helping communities large and small create new and needed transportation options while also improving local economies and quality of life,” said APA President Carol Rhea, FAICP. “Bikeshare has become a proven tool for building stronger, more vibrant, and more resilient communities. APA and the nation’s planners applaud the introduction of the bipartisan Bikeshare Transit Act. This legislation will make sure that federal policies and investments recognize what residents and cities already know: that bikeshare works.”
About the Author
Abigail Zenner is APA's Government Affairs Associate.
Image: Washington’s Capital Bikeshare in Crystal City. Photo by Flickr user Chris Reed (CC BY-NC 2.0).