Houston, San Antonio and Austin rank 4th, 7th and 11th respectively on the list of the most populated cities in the United States. These cities are also growing rapidly, consistently ranking near the top of that list as well. In general, these three Texas cities have developed in an auto-centric fashion, spreading out further and further into the hinterland. Today, much attention is paid to the urban renaissance of American cities, spurring the densification and revitalization of downtown districts. While this is undisputedly occurring in these cities, the suburban sprawl is also continuing and at the end of the day more people has led to more traffic congestion. While bicycle sharing systems can be considered an important feeder mode for a city’s transportation demand management toolkit, the systems in these three Texas cities are arguably not robust enough to put a significant dent in commute congestion.
Bicycle sharing systems allow customers to temporarily check out a bicycle from a station and return it to any other station in the network for a small user fee and/or annual membership price. They exist in 119 cities in the US and serve as a vital part of the travel demand management toolbox to help serve recreational/tourist-based, commuter and first-last mile trips in urban environments.
Our research examines the influence of various built environment indicators with respect to their effect on the average daily activity at B-cycle stations in three major Texas cities, employing spatial (GIS) and statistical (stepwise multiple linear regression) analyses to measure the effect of different built environment indicators on average daily bike-share station activity. Among the most important findings is that a strong positive relationship exists between bicycle-share activity and proximity to high-comfort bicycle facilities in Austin. With the largest system of the three sporting just under 60 stations, the geographic coverage is such that recreational or non-home-based trips are likely contributing the lion’s share of rides in these three cities. As such, the findings from this study are unique from those conducted in well-established systems in dense urban environments like Washington D.C. and New York City.