by Bob Passaro and Joshua Skov
This co-authored post originally appeared on April 19, 2018, in the Register-Guard. I’m reposting it on the one-year anniversary of PeaceHealth Rides to celebrate the bikeshare system’s immense success in its first year.
Peace Health Rides, Eugene’s first bike-share system, launches today. What is bike share, exactly? Why would you use it?
On one hand, it’s simple: You grab a bike at any of about three dozen stations spread across the city center, from the Whiteaker neighborhood to the University of Oregon campus, ride where you want to go, leave the bike at another station and move on with your day. A 15-minute ride will cost you a buck.
On the other hand, you can think of bike share as a wholly new mode of transportation available to anyone in central Eugene.
Maybe you drive or carpool to work on campus. Still, you might want to run an errand during the day or meet a friend for lunch. Go on a bike!
Perhaps you work downtown and have to get to the UO campus for a meeting. It’s probably too far to walk, but, man, parking is going to be a pain if you drive. Go on a bike!
Maybe you’re heading out on a date with your significant other — dinner at 5th Street Market and a movie at the Bijou? Go on a bike!
Even if you need to drive to get to downtown Eugene, just park in one place and as you make your way from one place to another, go on a bike!
You’ll probably have more fun, too. Not to mention, you get some exercise.
We’ve both been using bikes to get around Eugene for years. One thing we’ve learned — the dirty little secret — is that using a bike for short trips in a city is nearly as fast as driving — sometimes faster. And it’s usually way less hassle. Raise your hand if you enjoy driving around looking for a parking spot.
Frankly, Eugene is getting to this party a little late. If you’ve visited Portland, Seattle, Boise, Salt Lake City, San Francisco, Vancouver, B.C., or any of about 50 other cities in the United States, you may have noticed bike share. You may have used bike share.
If you have, one thing you realize right away is that you can completely forget about the bike after you park it. Unlike a bike that you own or rent (and unlike a car), you don’t have to go get it later. You can take advantage of other options during the same outing. You might park the bike-share bike at a destination and then walk to your next stop. Then you can grab another bike to go somewhere else. Or hop on a bus to a more distant destination. Or hail a taxi, Lyft or Uber.
Bike share, as part of our city infrastructure, is another piece of the transportation puzzle that you can mix and match with a variety of other ways of getting around.
That’s what we mean when we say this is its own new mode of transportation. It provides residents and visitors a new option to make short trips in an efficient, more appropriate way. Bike share has the potential to make other options — the bus, ride-hailing and walking — all more viable. If we have more options for different types of trips, all these pieces add up to a more efficient overall system.
Research in other cities has shown that use of bike share often keeps a car off the road for that trip. If people who often don’t ride a bike will try bike share in Eugene, even occasionally, that can help us control congestion, curb greenhouse gas emissions and take pressure off of parking spots. As with anything, every little bit adds up. Every transportation decision you make during your day adds up.
Even if you haven’t owned a bike in years, this is an easy, low-cost way to try a different way of getting around town. These aren’t crazy racing bikes (far from it!). They are designed to be an easy, comfortable ride for all skill levels.
Finally, if Eugene can see bike share thrive inside the initial footprint, we hope it will be possible to expand it to other parts of town.
We hope you’ll give it a try.
Bob Passaro is a former member of Eugene’s Active Transportation Committee and co-owner of a downtown business. Joshua Skov is on the Eugene Budget Committee and Lane Transit District’s Strategic Planning Committee. Both are board members of Better Eugene-Springfield Transportation (www.best-oregon.org).