As more communities adopt bike-sharing programs, key stakeholders in the industry have launched the North American Bikeshare Association to provide a forum for programs to share best practices and advocate for favorable policy initiatives. Last weekend, it marked a big moment: its first annual meeting.
Bike sharing is no longer a fad. With programs in a reported 36 U.S. cities and with more on the way, the bike-share industry is booming, and a new association is gearing up to help represent and support it.
Serving bike-share system owners, managers, operators, and service vendors, the North American Bikeshare Association was officially incorporated in April this year and held its first annual meeting this past weekend in Pittsburgh, where it elected its first board of directors.
“It’s a fast-growing industry, and it really helps to be able to discuss best practices, work together on solutions, understand what options are available, and find solutions to emerging problems,” NABSA treasurer Chris Eatough told Mobility Lab. “We do this more effectively if we do it together.”
In addition to supplying a forum for existing and new programs to share their experiences and best practices, the new member organization will also provide a unified advocacy voice for the industry.
“Sometimes casual discussion is fine, but sometimes it’s important to be able to collect the viewpoints and ideas of many individuals and organizations related to bike share, come to consensus, and then represent that viewpoint with one common voice,” said Eatough, who gave the example of bike sharing being considered a transit mode with regard to public policy and funding.
“It’s not there yet,” Eatough said. “So a strong collective voice is going to be helpful to make this happen.”
NABSA will also capitalize on the benefits of bike-share programs—including economic and health benefits—to encourage more cities and city planners to adopt these systems as transportation alternatives.
According to the American Society of Landscape Architects, which has advocated for more bike-share programs in cities around the world, these programs can reduce traffic and air pollution, lead to happier and healthier communities, and create new sustainable transportation jobs.
“A place where people bike is a vibrant place where people want to be,” NABSA President Bill Dossett told Mobility Lab. “Bike sharing has brought millions of people together behind the simple idea that we can create better cities by making it easier for more people to ride bikes.”