So, what do you think? Would your community benefit from a bike share?
The Case for Regional Connectivity
Existing Bike Share Systems in Cobb
When it comes to transportation (not to mention recreation and safety), the most effective thing district planners like the Town Center CID can do is provide options. According to a survey by Cobb Forward’s Comprehensive Transportation Plan, metro residents think regional priorities should be to enhance mobility in a cost-effective way. Bike shares are a relatively inexpensive, immediate step towards regional connectivity and transportation flexibility.
A regional system represents the next level of bike-share success for metro Atlanta. With bikes as a shared resource, communities will attract both people and dollars. Ever take one of those hop-on/hop-off city tourism buses? A large-scale bike shares offers the same self-serve functionality.
The Town Center CID’s nonprofit partner, the Town Center Community Alliance, manages the bike share program in its district. It represents part of the Alliance’s creative placemaking efforts, which include public amenities that attract investments and tourism. Each bike share station is set up where there is evidence of need and activity. Then, as a user, you log in to your local program to rent a bike.
One challenge with the bike shares in metro Atlanta is that each system operates independently. Therefore, you are limited to using a bike primarily within its home district, limiting extended riding. After all, it doesn’t make fiscal sense to rent a bike in Smyrna, ride it to Marietta for your commute, and pay for the rental all day just so you can ride back when finished. This negates the point of bike sharing, which is to rent only for the time you use the bike.
In July 2019, Cobb County passed an ordinance allowing bike share companies to operate within the county, so we can expect more districts and municipalities to start adding their own bike shares. This event opened up the mobility option to the entire county and in turn, the opportunity to connect our separate sharing systems into one combined regional system. With an integrated bike network, Cobb County could allow riders to take fluid trips without having to switch systems or bounce between stations.
The Town Center CID currently has six bike share stations throughout its six-square-mile district, and its next expansion goal is to further connect with adjacent communities. The Alliance invited Zagster, who operates all six Cobb bike share programs, to analyze and present the possibilities for a larger program. We have brought together our neighbors—two CIDs, nine cities and a dozen unincorporated neighborhoods—to discuss how this extension program will benefit the region as a whole. Combining bike share systems will enhance regional connectivity, facilitate new fruitful partnerships and create a brighter future for the county.