From Bike-Sharing to Bike Provisioning: Equity Lessons from the Green Apple Bikes Experiment
Andrew Young, MRCP 2nd year student, jumped into researching emerging planning trends during his first year in the program. Andrew and Dr. Greg Newmark, assistant professor in regional & community planning, found a mutual interest in Manhattan's Green Apple Bike program and spent the last year researching, writing and presenting findings.
All LARCP students are assigned a faculty mentor who provides career mentorship. This relationship complements the academic advising students receive within the program.
"Dr. Newmark is my career mentor and suggested that we co-author a paper together," Andrew said. "This paper is focused on Green Apple Bikes and is ideally the first step in my planning career. I am learning countless new things about researching, writing, and planning all in one project."
Newmark suggested the topic of Green Apple Bikes during their initial mentor meeting as an option for a research project. After a couple days of thought, both were confident in selecting Green Apple Bikes to be the focus of their research. Green Apple Bikes was particularly interesting to Young because he enjoys riding his bicycle and finds the transportation side of planning especially motivating.
"I wondered if the social capital of Manhattan might be strong enough to overcome barriers faced elsewhere," Newmark said. "Also, the program launched the month after I arrived in Manhattan, so I could track it from the beginning. That said, as a first-year faculty, I really needed help on this research, so it was only with Andrew's involvement that we got involved."
Green Apple Bikes differs from many municipal bike share programs as it is free to users and managed by volunteers. The more Newmark and Young learned about the details of the program the more inspired they became. Young stated that an inside look at the program made him value the free bike-share program in Manhattan and everything it offers to the community.
The team has been researching the bike-share program in Manhattan through fieldwork, interviews and data analysis. In May, Newmark and Young attended the Makeover Montgomery conference in Maryland to present their findings. The conference focused on real-world solutions for transportation in America's suburbs including: sharing economy, transit-oriented development and equity and opportunity in the suburbs. You can find the slides from the presentation below.
"I learned an enormous amount of things on our trip to D.C. where we presented our paper at the Makeover Montgomery conference in Montgomery County, Maryland. Meeting hundreds of future colleagues at the conference was an invaluable and unforgettable experience," Young said.
Dr. Newmark says his goal is for Andrew to gain experience in all elements of planning, from research and analysis to writing and presenting to prepare him for work in the field.
"This project is the first time I have done any extracurricular planning and I am learning a lot about the profession," Young said. "I think the key learning point I took away from this project was what it is like to be a planner in the real world. I had some doubts about my future in planning but after dipping my toes in the water, I know this is the career for me."
He has plans to continue presenting research at regional conferences this year and is exploring ideas for new research directions.
View Andrew's Makeover Montgomery conference presentation below starting at 31:32.