Ridership data shows the Buckhead bike share stations’ popularity is on the lower end of all bike stations in Atlanta, but the city says more stations are coming to the area.
Three Buckhead bike share stations were installed in July 2017 and haven’t performed as well as others in the city – averaging 84 riders a month and including one that had only 13 riders last September. But the city’s bike czar and the Livable Buckhead Executive Director Denise Starling said they expect those numbers to rise as Buckhead becomes more bike-friendly.
The city of Atlanta released its first annual bike report in March, which included ridership and bike share data, but left the three Buckhead bike share stations off the report’s map.
Starling, whose organization spearheaded the effort to install the stations, said the error was not surprising.
“That’s not uncommon. Atlanta tends to focus on Downtown and Midtown,” she said.
After the Reporter questioned the absence of the Buckhead stations, the city added a note to the map that says the stations are not shown “due to formatting.”
Even though Buckhead ridership is low, Becky Katz, the city’s chief bicycle officer, expects the numbers to increase and said the city plans to install more stations in Buckhead.
The city plans to use funds from a transportation special local option sales tax to double the amount of Relay Bike Share stations. One of their focuses will be “filling the gap” between Midtown and Buckhead, such as in the Lindbergh area, Katz said.
The local Relay Bike Share stations opened in the summer of 2017 across the street from the Lenox MARTA Station at East Paces Ferry and Lenox roads; at Tower Place, at the intersection of Lenox and Piedmont roads; and in Piedmont Center, which is on the opposite side of Lenox Road from Tower Place.
The Buckhead bike share stations have typically low ridership compared to others in the city, but Becky Katz expects that number to rise as trails like PATH400 and other connectivity projects like the East Paces Ferry Complete Street project take shape.
“As Buckhead roads become safer and more bike-friendly, you’ll those numbers go up,” she said.
The average rides for all three stations combined is 84 per month, city spokesperson Zinzi Sebunya said. In September, Tower Place had 75 rides, Lenox MARTA Station had 56 and Piedmont Center had 13, Sebunya said.
Piedmont Center often has the lowest rides for month, Starling said. It is likely due to the lack of residences near the station and its low visibility, she said.
“You’ve got to create the culture and build the infrastructure to make it more bike friendly,” she said.
The rainy and cold weather may also be to blame for the low ridership, she said.
“We launched at the end of the season. It hasn’t exactly been bikeable weather,” Starling said.
The report also showed the locations of bike counters around the city. There aren’t currently any in Buckhead, but the city and Livable Buckhead plan to split the cost to install a bike counter on PATH400 near Old Ivy Road, Starling said. The counter will be used to provide metrics on how many people are using bikes on PATH400.
“Just like you want traffic counts on road, you want bike counts on a path,” she said.
The bike counter is installed underneath the pavement and uses weight and magnetic force to count the bikes, Katz said.
Starling won’t start paying close attention to the numbers until more connectivity is in place to encourage bike riding, she said.
Livable Buckhead also plans to up engagement and promote PATH400 more often, including by hosting more programs and events.
“That’s what the BeltLine is so good at,” she said.
Annual and monthly memberships are available for Relay Bike Share from $10 to $15 per month. For more information, visit relaybikeshare.com.