JEFFVANDERLOU – When Lime Bikes made their big debut at the intersection of N. Grand and Page this spring, the bikes and scooters appeared to be there on accident. Five or six of the neon yellow and green bikes were lined up and many prospective bikers were unsure of how these bikes got into the neighborhood. At that time, the question was simple: can we ride them?
“The target neighborhoods are areas of the city where residents face disadvantages that may negatively affect things that bike share could help with,” said St. Louis City Traffic Commissioner Deanna Venker, “like access to transportation and job opportunities, affordability of transportation, and health outcomes. These are areas where bike/scooter share could provide an amenity and option for those that are in the most need, and yet are not the population most likely to use bike share without some additional engagement.”
To accomplish this goal, Venker explains, the permit requires that bike/scooter share companies must have a non-smart phone option for use, have a non-credit card option, have a plan for providing an equitable service and maintain 20 percent of the bike fleet in the Social Equity and Inclusion Target Neighborhoods.
Target neighborhoods include Wells Goodfellow-Kingshighway West, Hyde Park and Old North, also the Jeff-Vander-Lou /Grand Center and other low income communities.
Venker adds, “These areas have high concentrations of people of color, households below 200 percent of the poverty level, households with no automobile available for daily use, and households where the adults are non-English speakers.
Venker also says bike/scooter sharing helps reduce traffic congestion and improves air quality. It also saves time by making short trips in congested areas faster on bike or scooter than they would be on foot.
Analytics for bike and scooter usage in target neighborhoods are limited in scope, but more than 30 percent of riders appear to be travelling between public parks and transportation hubs like bus stops and MetroLink stations. Data provided by Venker states 7.5 percent of the trips in the target inclusion neighborhoods utilize bikes and scooters as access to public transit, compared to 6 percent in St. Louis City as a whole. On average, 25 percent of trips are starting and ending in parks.
Venker said the city is working with both Washington University and St. Louis University to continue to analyze data to find ways to improve information and access to the program.