Date of Award
Master of City and Regional Planning (MCRP)
Planning and Landscape Architecture
“Thirty-‐six million Americans cycle at least once a year,” according to a survey by the sporting goods industry.1 And while the United States does not appear to be veering towards a carless culture, it is coming to terms with multiple impending crises, all of which relate to a car-‐dominated society.2 From increasing rates of obesity to traffic congestion, from declining air quality to a lack of physical activity – converging trends have led to a growing interest in bicycling for both transportation and recreation, as well as the infrastructure that facilitates it. Bike share programs are one innovative outcome of that movement, and are now at the forefront of a burgeoning market.
From 2009 to 2010, the number of bike share programs increased by 49 percent, after seeing a 74 percent increase from 2008 to 2009.3 As such, bike share has been labeled the fastest growing form of transportation in the world (Table 1).4 Functioning as “bike transit,” bike share programs are defined as a “fleet of bicycles available at a network of unattended stations for short-‐term use.”5 Though the particulars of each program vary, all bike share systems operate as a shared bicycle fleet serving daily mobility.
Bike share programs currently operate in London; Melbourne; Paris; Montreal; Rome; Barcelona; Washington, D.C.; Beijing; Rio de Janeiro; and many other signature cities around the world.7 Yet, thus far, only seven programs operate in the United States (as of April 2011)8 and no programs exist in mid-‐ to small-‐ sized cities in the U.S.
It is within this context that the City of Greenville, South Carolina expressed interest in a feasibility study for implementing a city bike share program. Greenville is a small city with a population just over 60,000, which accounts for less than 14 percent of Greenville County’s population.12 Its footprint rests within the upper piedmont of the Blue Ridge Mountains, creating the central hub of the ten-‐county Upstate region of South Carolina. The city is uniquely positioned to offer convenient access to large metropolitan hubs, such as Atlanta and Charlotte, to nationally recognized vacation beaches, and to well-‐preserved mountain wilderness. Additionally, Greenville’s location along Interstate 85 places it at the center of one of the fastest growing corridors in the nation.13 Yet a city that is poised for growth is also poised for the difficulties that come with growth, and Greenville is no exception. Challenges such as an increasingly auto-‐dominated transportation network, diminished air quality, and declining urban neighborhoods are already making their mark on the community.
Crowther, Jean Crow, "Bike Share: A Feasability Study for Greenville, S.C." (2011). Master of City and Regional Planning Terminal Projects. 40.