Beyond Equity — A Strategy for Developing Critical Leadership in Transportation

Houston Bcycle

Houston Bike Share’s mission is to provide equitable access to bike share that fosters recreation, mobility and personal wellness. They envision a Houston where everyone has access to a bike for work, play and transportation. Since launching the Houston BCycle system with three stations and 18 bikes in May
2012, the program has expanded to cover 109 stations and 800 bikes throughout a variety of Central Houston neighborhoods. 2019 was a groundbreaking year for Houston BCycle in that the program saw a 45% increase in trips (240,000+ by year’s end) and a massive increase in one-way rides by members, which speaks to the system’s growing value as a transportation option.

Emergency Relief Work: Under the Harris County “Stay Home, Work Safe” order, which is in effect until the end of April, Houston BCycle is classified as an essential business that provides essential services to its users. To that end, Houston BCycle has remained open throughout the pandemic as a much-needed, socially-distant, affordable form of transportation and recreation.

In March 2020, the program saw more trips (26,000+) than ever had in one month. All forms of communication throughout COVID-19 — social media, newsletter, text message, customer service, website, and more — have focused almost entirely on messaging regarding proper and hygienic use of the system. Mechanics and field technicians — along with a large team of part-time, paid ambassadors — have worked hard to scale up disinfection efforts accordingly. They have also posted COVID-19 warning signs at each station that include health information and a mandate to stay six feet away from others while using the system. On April 3, Houston BCycle closed 12 of its most popular stations in busy parks in order to combat overcrowding. These 12 stations generate over 70% of our revenue.

Given the recent closures, they have instituted a policy to refund new members upon request. Houston BCycle has also relaxed rules around delinquencies to increase flexibility for riders — many of whom they expect are undergoing tough financial times. The team has consistently informed the public of these efforts while continuing to push them to be responsible stewards by washing their hands, using the BCycle mobile app (as opposed to the public touchscreen) and wearing gloves when possible.