A Year In Review – Lincoln’s First Bike Share Program
28,000 trips. Eight and a half months of operation. Four years of planning. 2018 was a big first year for Lincoln’s downtown bike share program! In fact, Bike LNK saw more trips in 2018 than much larger cities’ bike share programs, like Kansas City and Memphis.
“It’s those things that make you realize why Lincoln is such a great place to be,” Bike LNK manager Jamie Granquist said. “And it’s only getting better.”
The idea for a downtown bike share program for Lincoln began in 2014 and was a student-led push from the Association of Students of the University of Nebraska (ASUN). ASUN pitched the program to the city planning department, was approved for funding from the Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement (CMAQ) Program, got a nod from city council, and Bike LNK was on its way to fruition. In September 2017, orders were placed for bikes and kiosks through the BCycle bike share company.
Granquist was hired in February 2018 and hit the ground running with a small team planning the Bike LNK launch, working on building bikes, and getting 19 kiosks on the ground in downtown Lincoln and the UNL campus. The team shared a round table in a small office and built bikes in the basement of the municipal building at the Lincoln airport—100 bikes in one room take up a lot of space.
April 20, 2018 marked the official launch of Bike LNK with a ribbon cutting and celebration in the Railyard. The following two weeks saw 1,500 bike trips. In September, Bike LNK had a high of 5,300 trips. “Everybody was pleasantly surprised about how well it did,” Granquist said.
At a company-wide convention that invited all cities using BCycle bike share systems, the Bike LNK team also was surprised to find that Lincoln’s daily traffic patterns were unusual. Unlike other cities, Lincoln’s bike share experiences a fourth “bump” in numbers following the usual spikes in usage in the morning, at lunchtime, and for the commute home from work.
“That’s because our downtown is so vibrant with the restaurants that we have, the music venues that we have, movie theaters, and bars,” Granquist said. “And so we see a fourth rise in our trips between 8 and 10 p.m. that other cities frankly don’t see. It just really speaks to the great place that we live.” Granquist’s advice to people who are wanting to use the bike share program but are unsure of where to begin is to start small and make small goals.
“Maybe on a Thursday, just decide you’re going to park by the ball diamonds at Lincoln High, check out a bike from the kiosks at Nelnet, and ride the rest of the way to work,” she said. “It doesn’t have to be these huge steps. It’s small changes that add up to huge things.”
Bike LNK’s top user, Joe Huffman, started by simply checking out a bike to ride around during his lunch hour.
In 2019, Granquist said she hopes to see expansion to neighborhoods outside of downtown where people live, and improving the service in general based on feedback.
She’s proud to say that Bike LNK’s inaugural success in 2018 was a collaborative effort from a lot of passionate people.
“I think that really reflects the place that Lincoln is,” she said. “We just really work together, everybody’s a friend—you give the finger wave off the steering wheel as you pass people. We just don’t ever lose that.”
Founded in 1967, the Downtown Lincoln Association provides services and champions initiatives for maintaining and enhancing our vibrant downtown. Our vision is to create an energetic downtown environment where we live, learn, work, invest and play. DLA has evolved into a multi-faceted organization supporting a wide range of programs and activities including maintenance, economic development and advocacy.