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New Report Shows Demand for Bike Share

Post Date:11/07/2019 5:39 PM
In 2018, the Town of Arlington joined fifteen other communities to bring bike share to Greater Boston communities. Working with the Metropolitan Area Planning Council (MAPC), Arlington, Bedford, Belmont, Chelsea, Everett, Malden, Medford, Melrose, Milton, Needham, Newton, Quincy, Revere, Waltham, Watertown, and Winthrop selected Lime to establish a regional dockless bike share network.

New research by MAPC analyzing over 300,000 bike share trips reveals demand for bike share in Greater Boston communities, as well as opportunities for improvements to cycling infrastructure within communities and between cities and towns. The interactive report uses detailed trip-level data from the Lime system to map trip patterns and pinpoint the most-frequented routes over the 18-month period from April 2018 through September 2019. MAPC’s report, First Miles, is available online.

The unique data, which includes individual trip routes without tracking information about the habits of individual users, revealed that connections to transit were a relatively small share of Lime bike trips: only 15% of trips began or ended within 100 meters of a subway, trolley, Silver Line or Commuter Rail station.

Instead, many trips took place within communities, to and from points of interest, or between municipalities where transit connections are limited. City or town centers and commercial districts have the highest density of activity, but trips spread out into residential neighborhoods, which tend to be the end-point of trips more than the start. The average trip length was just over one mile and the highest frequency of trips took place between 4 p.m. and 7 p.m.

Between October 2018 and September 2019, approximately 12,770 trips started in Arlington, with 68 percent of those trips ending in Arlington, a pattern that is seen in all of the participating communities. Another 22 percent of trips starting in Arlington ended in Cambridge. Owing to their proximity to Arlington, other top community destinations included Lexington, Medford, and Somerville.

During the same time period, Arlington saw 233 trips per 1,000 persons (residents and employees), the third highest rate in the service area behind Malden and Everett. The research also discovered that the Minuteman Bikeway is very popular with Lime bike riders, especially between Arlington Center and Alewife T station, which is the destination for approximately 10 percent of all trips that start in Arlington. Roadways with high bike share activity include Mass Ave, Lake Street, Pleasant Street, Broadway, and Mill Street, as well as several neighborhood streets in East Arlington such as Herbert Road and Thorndike Street.

“The regional bike share initiative has clearly been successful in Arlington, and it also has allowed the Town to gain access to timely and useful data about bicycling destinations, route preferences, and activity,” said Jennifer Raitt, Director of Planning and Community Development. “These data show a strong demand for bicycling to get to locations within Arlington, not only along the Minuteman Bikeway, but often along routes that do not have adequate bicycling infrastructure.”

The research also noted seasonal variability in the system as well as year-over-year differences. Across the system, ridership slowed considerably during the winter, with an average of only 52 trips per day (approximately 1,500 trips per month) from January 2019 through March 2019. As a result, Lime will suspend winter operations between December 2019 and March 2020. Lime will begin removing bicycles on November 15 with the goal to have all bikes removed from operation on November 30. Ridership in 2019 was substantially lower than in 2018 across the board; peak monthly ridership was in June 2019 (21,000 rides) and declined each month through September. Comparison of peak period ridership (April through September) shows a 40 percent decline in year-over-year ridership from 2018 – 2019.

The information comes as a result of a data-sharing agreement between Lime and MAPC, which created the regional framework that allows Lime to operate in over a dozen communities in the Greater Boston region. For more information, please contact Daniel Amstutz, Senior Transportation Planner in Arlington’s Department of Planning & Community Development:
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