Bike Share, Where?

Data Oakland Research

Bike Share, Where?

Many keys have been smashed about Mobility as a Service, the apparent overnight rise of bike share, and the risks of VC-driven transportation infrastructure, but less has been said about how we should evaluate these new systems.

Anyone passing through Oakland in the last nine months will likely have noticed the proliferation of Ford GoBikes. And that’s great! Bike share (bicycle, electric, scooter, docked and otherwise) is a great mode choice for a lot of trips. I’m such a fan that I actually sold my personal bike, and rely on bike share for all my two-wheeled trips. I also take Lyft a lot less. And I’m thrilled that my city pushed for and won a $5 annual membership for low income users.

But those are very anecdotal and therefore qualitative experiences. On the occasion of Ford soliciting feedback for a new bike station in my neighborhood, here’s my proposal for three new metrics of bike share coverage, and a station location endorsement.

Distance to Nearest Station

Surprise, it’s something simple! How far does someone have to walk to get to a bike share station? For ease of manual mapping, this can be easily aggregated at the city block level.

In this example, there are six intersections shown (assuming one block up from the right-most station is effectively an intersection, too).

  • Two intersections have stations (distance = 0)
  • Three intersections are one block away from a station (distance = 1)
  • One intersection requires going a bit further (distance = 2)

The average distance to a bike share station across this area is 0.5 blocks.

The maximum distance to a bike share station across this area is 2 blocks.

Only one intersection has a distance greater than 2 (blocks exceeding a reasonable distance).

Got it? Ok, let’s dive in.

Analyzing the Lakeside Apartment District

When bike share launched last fall, Lakeside had it pretty good. Which makes sense. We’re close to downtown, surrounded by bike stations, and one of the densest residential parts of Oakland. If you want people to ditch their cars, this is where you look.

In fact, this neighborhood is so nice, and so perfect for car-light living, that we’re about to get 6,000 new neighbors to share this lifestyle. But all this construction is bad news in the short term for bike share, because three stations were ripped out to make room for construction vehicles.

This was sad times bike-wise for Lakeside. We kept our stations on the periphery, but walking past a BART station to hop on a bike feels a little ridiculous.

Eventually, replacement stations came.

This is where this analysis started to be useful. I’ve long complained about Lakeside losing its stations, because most of my trips end north of 14th. The 13th and Franklin site is awfully close to 14th and Broadway, and 19th and Webster is duplicatively close to Snow Park, but 11th and Jackson filled a big hole I hadn’t considered.

And it’s about to get better. There are three locations proposed north of 14th Street. Let’s see how the numbers stack up here, too.

All three have a roughly similar impact on the neighborhood overall in terms of average distance. Alice & 14th would win out over existing stations on more blocks. Madison & 17th would make a bigger impact on a smaller number of blocks.

Unfortunately, Alice & 14th is also set to become a construction site any month now. Unless Ford wants to do this all over again next year, 17th & Alice seems to be the best choice out of these.


Not all blocks are created equal, of course. Ideally this would be weighed by population density or destination density. This also all becomes moot when dockless bike share formally arrives. But until then, it would be ideal to see more equitable and data-driven decision making than just diverting services to the loudest residents.

Though, if that’s what’s happening at 14th & Alice, I’d be flattered.

Get Involved

Convinced? Not? Either way, take Ford’s survey and let them know where you think the next station should go.

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