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Bike share operators launch trade association

Published December 3, 2014
New group to work closely with PeopleForBikes and NACTO to expand bike sharing.

MINNEAPOLIS (BRAIN) — The directors of bike share programs nationwide have come together to form a new group called the North American Bike Share Association. The group's 10-member board is comprised of executive directors and operators of bike share systems including Boston Hubway, Austin B-Cycle, Capital Bikeshare and Chicago Divvy, among others.

NABSA held its first annual meeting in early September in Pittsburgh.

The mission of the group is to create a forum for cities, nonprofits and vendors to share best practices and establish industry standards for improving quality of service and programs, and on ways to report data gathered from bike share stations and bikes, as well as the success of the systems, who's riding and where they're riding.

"This is an industry that's moving very quickly and a lot of innovation is going on," said Bill Dossett, NABSA board president and executive director of Nice Ride Minnesota. "Our goal is really to share those ideas and see the newest product and look at how we as an industry can integrate with what's going on in other industries, with car sharing and bike sharing and transit. We have a lot in common with user interfaces and payment processing."

Dossett estimates that there are approximately 60 bike sharing systems across the U.S. About 22 of those are members. In addition to bike share operators, manufacturers that supply equipment for bike sharing are also members as well as insurers, and representatives from the advertising and sponsorship world.

"Our goal is really to promote bike share by making it easier for new cities to get involved and start a new system, but also to do bike share better," Dossett said. "We want to provide customers with the best service we possibly can."

As part of that, NABSA is working with PeopleForBikes on legislative initiatives that affect bike sharing in the U.S.

"We think it's in the best interest that bike share is successful nationally because it's such a visible bike experiment," said Jenn Dice, vice president of government relations for PeopleForBikes. "We see a direct link between bike share systems and infrastructure improvements to support these new riders. Cities immediately have to think about connectivity and access. So we hope to help them navigate the regulations and policies."

NABSA directors Elliott McFadden of Austin B-Cycle and Mirte Mallory of Aspen We-Cycle will work with Dice to identify opportunities and take action on legislative priorities.

Currently, Congress is considering several bills that would affect funding and parity in commuter tax benefits for bike sharing users. NABSA and PeopleForBikes also want to clarify and streamline regulations and contracting with federal agencies.

PeopleForBikes, in partnership with Humana, established a foundation for U.S. bike sharing by bringing 1,000 bikes to the 2008 Presidential Conventions in Denver and Minneapolis-St. Paul. PeopleForBikes has also supported the launch of bike sharing in Austin, Indianapolis, Seattle and Chattanooga.

Additionally PeopleForBikes' Green Lane Project is funding investment in bike-sharing equity programs, in association with Philly Bike Share in Philadelphia.

NABSA is also working closely with the National Association of City Transportation Officials.

"They've been a major partner to bike share cities by showing how we can make bike lanes and protected bike lanes—terrific infrastructure—and make them work in the city and make streets better for pedestrians, bikers and cars," Dossett said. "It incubated this association and we'll work with them in a big way."

NABSA will hold various webinars throughout the year on various topics including how to get grant money and use federal funding for bike share.

Bike share operators should contact Dossett for more information at bdossett@niceridemn.org or go to nabsa.net.

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