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Bike share

Bike share is a sustainable transportation idea that is coming of age in America. Unlike some more hard-core issues, like expanding bike lanes, bike share is exciting a wider audience to consider riding a bike in their city.

Smart business<br />Bike Share in DenverNice Ride<br />A hybrid city-private run bike share service in Minneapolis, MN. 

Image: GCBL


The origins of modern bike share—self service and rent by the hour—can be traced to city-led programs in Paris and Washington. Images of 20,000 rent-by-the-hour bikes in Paris and D.C.'s Capital Bikeshare have generated lots of excitement, which has led to a dozen U.S. bike share programs starting up in the last few years. Again, these are bikes that are checked out one place with a credit card swipe and returned to another station at or near your destination.

Bike share confirms that city dwellers—plus congestion and the inconvenience of parking—set up well for a bike-when-you-need-it situation. Even in car-loving America, bikes suddenly become attractive when convenience and coolness are mixed in with a dose of tech.

Bike share is spreading beyond big and warm-climate cities. Minneapolis, Denver and Chicago also have bike share.

The issue for a mid-market city with a sprawl problem is finding the financial sweet spot to make it 'a go'. That hasn't stopped some (see Chattanooga, Columbus and Pittsburgh).

Bike sharing has been talked about in Cleveland for a number of years. In 2011, participants in Bike Cleveland's 2011 Bike Summit identified bike sharing as a priority to make Cleveland a more bicycle-friendly city.

How we're involved

GreenCityBlueLake has been involved with a number of cycling advocacy and pilot projects. We've worked with University Circle, Inc. to advance concepts of bike sharing in the University Cirlce area, and we've launched an employee bike share program at the Cleveland Museum of Natural History.

In 2012, GCBL and University Circle, Inc. worked with five Case Weatherhead School of Business students to study the possibility of a bike share program in Cleveland. The study, "Cleveland Bike Share: Potential and Possibility" concludes that a non-profit business model similar to Denver Bike Share might work best here. The students offered that the region's bike advocacy non-profit group, Bike Cleveland, is well-positioned to move into a leadership role. It may want to form a partnership with a city to direct federal funds (similar to the path taken in Minneapolis).

After the completion of the Case bike share study, Bike Cleveland, University Circle, Inc. and GreenCityBlueLake formed a Bike Share steering committee with the city of Cleveland Office of Sustainability, RTA, CDCs and others, to work on concrete next steps to move toward a bike share program in Cleveland in the coming year.

Next Steps

In fall 2012, the City of Cleveland issued a Request for Proposals for a Bike Share Feasibility Study and Implementation Plan.

In January, 2013 the City of Cleveland selected Toole Design Group to lead its bike share feasibility study and bike plan. Work has commenced with the bike share committee and a public meetings planned for early 2013.

Depending on results from the study, a pilot bike share program may be on the ground in the summer of 2013 with a more comprehensive implementation in place by spring of 2014.

How you can help

  • Check out the city of Cleveland's Bike Share Feasibility Study and Implementation Plan website.
  • Take their survey of attitides on the site.
  • Participate in the crowd-sourcing map. Make a suggestion or commenting on suggested possible locations for bike sharing stations.
  • Participate in the Cleveland Bike Share public meeting on April 24, 2013 at 6 pm at Cleveland Public Library Main.
  • Let your neighborhood leaders know you support bike sharing programs.
  • Let us know if you or your employer would be interested in sponsoring a station or bikes. While we don't yet know the exact costs in Cleveland, similar efforts have required diverse funding sources and significant corporate support.


Toole Design Group, the firm leading Cleveland's Bike Share feasibility study, produced a 2012 report of existing Bike Share programs.

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