Access Is The Metric - and eBikes Win
FreeBike is called FreeBike because bikes deliver freedom. Better yet, they do it inexpensively and create immense value for everyone in the community. Simply making bikes free for users pays for itself many times over, both economically and in the social health that comes from you and your neighbors being free to live your lives.
Focusing on the goal of freedom, how might one measure the freedom side of the equation? How will we know we're getting somewhere, helping someone live with more freedom?
Some very smart, diligent, compassionate people have been thinking about this question for a long time, and what they've come to is the following: Access is the metric. What is it possible for a person to get to in a limited amount of time? Can they use the service? When you combine these questions and measure the results, you can compare different services. What can a person reach with a car? With a bus? With light-rail? With ride-hail? On foot? With a bike?
One of the things to love about measuring access is that it shows how inter-related transportation and land-use are. Land-use determines where things are, how near or far apart. Transportation determines how fast you can move across that land.
The differences between cities are startling and informative. Using public transit in a low-density city, a typical resident can only reach about 10% as many jobs as that typical resident could in a medium-density city. Having access to 10 times more jobs is one way to increase freedom. Someone on a bike in a medium-density city can do even better, frequently having a reasonable commute to somewhere between 2/3 to 3/4 of jobs in a city. And you know what, the numbers would likely be similar for other equally-important but less-measured things such as: how many friends can you easily reach? You can see the national study results at the Access Across America site.
To our eyes here at FreeBike, the extraordinary upshot of all of the maps and measurements from the national access inventory is simple: ebikes are an extraordinarily powerful, affordable, practical way to increase access. An extraordinarily powerful way to increase freedom.
For a more in-depth discussion of this topic, we highly recommend checking out this essay by long-time transportation planner Jarrett Walker at Human Transit.
So, go read that Human Transit essay, and then get in touch with us here at FreeBike to talk about using ebikes (and their various small electric relatives) to increase access and freedom in your community.