The City of Chattanooga announced on Thursday that the Bike Chattanooga bikeshare program set records for growth during the COVID pandemic, as residents took the opportunity to enjoy the city’s outdoor resources and opportunities.
“One of Chattanooga’s greatest competitive advantages is our unparalleled outdoor recreation, with spectacular destinations across our city,” said Mayor Tim Kelly. “As a Chattanoogan who has enjoyed riding my bike to work and for fun, I’m grateful that other residents are taking advantage of the chance to enjoy fresh air and exercise while exploring our wonderful community.”
The nearly nine-year-old program, which includes 42 stations and 400 bikes located throughout the city, shattered its annual usage record in 2020 and continues to show growth through May 2021.
“Ridership started to pick up after we introduced e-bikes in 2018, and we’re excited to see that trend continue through the pandemic and beyond,” said Ben Taylor, Director of Transportation Operations for the City of Chattanooga.
Bike Chattanooga served an average of 51,000 trips to around 20,000 users each year from 2013 through 2018. In 2019, Bike Chattanooga served 73,000 trips to over 26,000 users, growing to 88,000 trips to over 35,000 users in 2020, with trips up another 60% so far for 2021.
Casual recreational users were largely responsible for the system’s unprecedented uptick in usage, with 77% of all trips taken by short-term (24-hour or three-day subscriptions) members in 2020, a 43% annual increase. Weekends accounted for 50% of all trips, a 97% annual increase.
“In trying and adverse conditions, our team in Chattanooga excelled, helping to ensure that our bikes were safe and available to use for all Chattanoogans,” said Eddie Inlow, CEO of Shift Transit, the company that has overseen the day-to-day operations of the Bike Chattanooga program since 2017. “We are thrilled to have played a role in Bike Chattanooga’s record-breaking accomplishments in 2020 and look forward to continuing to partner with the city to build on the program’s success.”
On the heels of Bike Chattanooga’s success, the Tennessee Department of Transportation last week awarded Chattanooga a $1 million Multimodal Access Grant to further enhance the transportation solutions available for pedestrians, bicyclists, and transit-users. The grant will be used to create a North-South Multimodal Connectivity Corridor with transit shelters, ADA accessibility improvements, and additional Bike Chattanooga stations. The new infrastructure will support a new bus route on Tennessee State Route 17, which passes through N. Willow Street, E. 3rd Street, and Dodson Avenue.
Adding Bikeshare stations with the transit stops will serve the first and last mile connection, and will link southside neighborhoods to the historic ridge-to-river area and connect key east-west corridors with much needed north-south access for safe and efficient transportation options to services and jobs.