The numbers for the first 6 months of the Pacers Bikeshare are in, and the program appears to be a success in comparison to a larger bike share in Denver. These numbers are nice to see, as they show that there is a demand for alternative modes of travel in the downtown area. A successful bikeshareÂ like the one centered around the Indianapolis Cultural Trail will help to encourage future expansion.
However, I do think this data should be read with a bit more caution. Â It does not prove that Indianapolis is a greener city than Denver, as the Indy Star article suggests. Â What it does prove is that this service provides a method of getting around downtown Indianapolis that previously was difficult by means other than vehicles. Importantly, Denver has frequent free bus shuttles right downtown (and have just added a second free route), which likelyÂ substantially cuts down on bike share ridership.
Notice the boarding numbers for this service:Â Ridership on an average weekday on the FREE MallRide in 2012 was 44,865 boardings. Total ridership in the same period accommodated 13,679,785 boardings. Compare that to Indy’s Bike Share numbers, and it’s obvious that we aren’t even in the same ballpark. Â Heck, that one line has more rides than in the entire IndyGo system. If Indianapolis really wants to move people of all walks of life in large quantities, then we would probably need to add a similar free and frequent shuttle downtown. Street design matters as well: 16th Street in Denver is a dedicated bus only thoroughfare, so pedestrians feel plenty welcome and safe.
It’s great that the demand exists for the Indianapolis Bike Share. The city has done a good job in making sure it is as successful as it can be. But, as always, there’s plenty more that can be done to improve mobility even further.