Carnegie Mellon University – H. John Heinz III College
Three Rivers Bike Share
A Campaign and Implementation Plan for Bike Sharing in Pittsburgh
Adam Schott Hovne
Presented at the National Public Policy Challenge
Hosted by the Fels Institute of Government,
University of Pennsylvania
April 22nd, 2012
Table of Contents
Executive Summary ....................................................................................................................................................3
What’s the problem in Pittsburgh? ............................................................................................................................6
Primary Problem: Inefficient Transit Options between Downtown and Adjacent Neighborhoods..................6
Key Stakeholder Groups Affected by Planned Cuts............................................................................................6
Secondary Problem: Public Health and Exercise ................................................................................................7
Putting the Problems into a Pittsburgh Context ........................................................................................................7
The Solution: The Three Rivers Bike Share .................................................................................................................8
Why Bike Sharing Will Work for Pittsburgh........................................................................................................8
Previous Steps Taken to Advance Bike Sharing in Pittsburgh ....................................................................................9
Assumptions about the Size and Scope of the Bike Share Program ..........................................................................9
Structure of Three Rivers Bike Share ....................................................................................................................... 10
Development of a Bike Pittsburgh-Supported Non-Profit .............................................................................. 10
Major Barriers to the Successful Adoption of Bike Sharing in Pittsburgh ....................................................... 11
Targets for the Three Rivers Bike Share .......................................................................................................... 12
Campaign Plan to Generate Financial and Public Support for a Bike Share............................................................ 12
Why Downtown Organizations Will Support Bike Share................................................................................. 13
How Do We Get Downtown’s Organizations on Board? ................................................................................. 13
Community Support ........................................................................................................................................ 15
Strategy to Navigate Legislative and Regulatory Processes .................................................................................... 16
Ordinance Allowing Advertising on Bike Sharing Stations .............................................................................. 16
Resolutions Allowing City Right-of-Way to be used for Bike Sharing Stations................................................ 17
Bureaucratic Steps ........................................................................................................................................... 17
Future Opportunities ....................................................................................................................................... 17
America’s Most Livable City into the Future! .......................................................................................................... 18
Appendix A: Map of Phase 1 Service Area Neighborhoods..................................................................................... 20
Appendix B: Detail of Cost and Revenue Analysis ................................................................................................... 21
Appendix C: City Council Ordinance Allowing Advertising on Bike Sharing Stations .............................................. 23
Appendix D: Resolution Granting Three Rivers Bike Share the Right to Use City Right-of-Way ............................. 25
Three Rivers Bike Share 2
Situated at the confluence of the Allegheny, Monongahela and Ohio Rivers, Downtown Pittsburgh rose to
prominence with the rise of heavy industry, peaking during and after World War II. Thereafter, heavy industry
left for cheaper shores and residents moved to the suburbs and other cities. Pittsburgh now focuses on medical
research, high-tech industry, and facilitating a high quality of life. These attributes are attracting new, talented,
and youthful populations.
As Pittsburgh becomes a better place to live and work, the decade-long public transportation crisis threatens to
stifle the growing economy. The Port Authority of Allegheny County plans a 35% cut in service in the autumn of
2012. If the Port Authority implements the proposed cuts, a likely occurrence, the total level of service will drop
to 45% of the 2000 level. Given that more than half of commuters to Downtown Pittsburgh rely on public transit,
many will look for a new method of commuting.
Moreover, despite the exemplary health care facilities in the city, the health problems confronting the nation
occur in Pittsburgh too. Unfortunately, Pittsburgh has the fourth highest population of obese adults in the
country. Pittsburgh’s major employers have introduced corporate
wellness programs with the dual purpose of promoting healthy living
and lowering insurance premiums.
The Three Rivers Bike Share team’s proposal addresses these two
major problems. Our solution is a bike share program in Pittsburgh
that will provide an alternative mode of transportation and promote
active living. A bike sharing system, which could be colloquially
described as “Zipcar for bicycles,” enables a member to check out a
bicycle from one of a network of automated stations, ride to his/her
Nice Ride Minnesota Bike Share
destination, and return the bicycle to a different station. The resulting
non-profit organization that will implement bike sharing in Pittsburgh will be called Three Rivers Bike Share.
Other than transportation and health advantages, our proposed campaign and implementation plan will present
Pittsburgh with a benefit bonanza for employers, residents, and visitors.
Pittsburgh leaders are already thinking about bike sharing. Representatives of the mayor, bicycling and
transportation planners, neighborhood groups, and economic development agencies formed the Bike Share
Working Group to investigate the feasibility and barriers of implementing bike sharing in Pittsburgh. In addition,
Bike Pittsburgh, a non-profit advocacy group, “hired” Carnegie Mellon University students to further examine
bike sharing in Pittsburgh’s market. Most concretely, the City of Pittsburgh applied for funding through the
federal Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality program for a bike share system. However, the results of the
application are not yet publicly known.
Implementation of Three Rivers Bike Share faces two major obstacles: financial capital and a lack of outspoken
public support. From comparable cities’ data, the Three Rivers Bike Share team estimated first-year costs:
Three Rivers Bike Share 3
Minneapolis and Denver, comparable cities, saw increasing operating revenue in subsequent years, meaning
that the Three Rivers Bike Share would cover its operating costs in future years. That small gap is not troubling.
However, raising the start-up capital of $2.8 million presents difficulties. Minneapolis, Denver and most other
bike share programs utilized federal funds. The core strategy of the Three Rivers Bike Share will be to tap
private funding sources rather than rely on dwindling federal sources.
The Allegheny Conference, a non-profit formed in 1944 as a forum for corporate and foundation executives,
local institution leaders, and other stakeholder organizations, works to improve the economy and quality of life
in the Pittsburgh region. The Three Rivers Bike Share, through relationships with cycling executives, will utilize
the Allegheny Conference network to generate financial support in the private community for a bike share.
Support from individual organizations will fill the capital funding gap.
Simultaneously, Three Rivers Bike Share will need to generate support from the public. Neighborhood
associations, small business owners, and residents of some communities affected by the bike share program
might perceive any bicycle-related infrastructure development as a harbinger of gentrification. Learning from
the experience of Portland’s bike share program with regard to this issue and similar developments in
Pittsburgh’s history, Three Rivers Bike Share must ensure public acceptance of bike sharing in the affected
communities before proceeding.
Three Rivers Bike Share will use three strategies to generate support from these groups. First, involvement in
the planning process as contributing decision makers will generate both feedback for and ownership of the
project. Second, a public relations campaign involving supportive celebrities and local events will stimulate
positive associations with a bike share. Third, visible public fundraisers and mass events will show the existing
support, encourage discussion, and rouse excitement for a bike share program.
These combined strategies for generating financial and public backing create a positive feedback loop and
produce the needed political space for supportive legislative processes. There are three political steps. First, City
Council must pass an ordinance permitting advertising on bike share stations. Second, City Council must resolve
to allow bike share stations to use public right-of-way where necessary. Finally, Three Rivers Bike Share must
Three Rivers Bike Share 4
work with multiple commissions and departments to ensure protection of Pittsburgh’s infrastructure, historic
sites, and built environment to approve station locations and design.
In summary, Three Rivers Bike Share will substantially contribute to solving ongoing transportation crises and
health issues by giving commuters, residents, and visitors another transportation option that is both efficient
and healthy. Pittsburgh’s leaders have taken the first steps in establishing a bike share program, but a non-profit
organization, the Three Rivers Bike Share, will still need to overcome a capital funding gap and doubts from the
public and key stakeholders. Corporations, smaller businesses, foundations, politicians, neighborhood groups,
and individuals each will gain distinct benefits from the program and will support it in their own interest. The
Three Rivers Bike Share will improve Pittsburgh’s livability and enhance its reputation as a city that is supportive
of sustainable transportation and urban living. To retain its recurring title of “America’s Most Livable City” in the
future, Pittsburgh must pursue a bike share to help bind its central neighborhoods closer together.
Three Rivers Bike Share 5
What’s the problem in Pittsburgh?
National issues of transportation funding cuts, traffic congestion, and sedentary lifestyles prevail in Pittsburgh as
well. The Three Rivers Bike Share provides a singular solution to problems at the intersection of transportation,
environment, and health. It will provide a service to individuals affected by transit cuts, a method to reduce
traffic congestion, and an opportunity for physical activity.
Primary Problem: Inefficient Transit Options between Downtown and Adjacent Neighborhoods
If one wants to go a short distance, moving around Pittsburgh’s Central Business District can be easily
accomplished by walking. However, at longer distances, walking becomes time prohibitive and so one may
consider taking a bus. Unfortunately, one often spends time waiting at the bus stop only to board a crowded bus
which will stop at every other block. If one wanted to drive, he/she must fetch the car from its parking place,
drive, and then find a new parking place. There is an existing need for a new mode of transportation that can
adequately fill this gap for a mid-range transportation option for Pittsburgh’s residents and workforce.
Proposed service cuts by the Port Authority of Allegheny County will further exacerbate these problems.
Pittsburgh once had a rich public transit infrastructure in its heyday in the mid-1900’s, complete with trolley
cars, buses, and passenger rail. With population loss and significant industry shifts, public transit’s situation
became unsustainable. The proposed cuts, intended to help manage a $64 million budget deficit, would reduce
service to 45% of the service level in 2000.1 A steep reduction in public transit service would impact many
constituents. More cars will clog Downtown’s streets, low-income workers may not be able to get to work in a
timely fashion due to full busses, and urban employers and developers risk alienating young talent that has
shown a preference for urban living.
Key Stakeholder Groups Affected by Planned Cuts
Stakeholder Groups Effect of Transit Cuts Influence in Engineering Change
Residents • Limited Travel Options • Vocal Advocates
Downtown Employers • Lower Employee • Public Advocacy
Commutability • Political Support
• Increased Parking Cost • Financial Backing
Downtown Area Developers • Lower Property Value • Political Support
• Lower Property Demand • Financial Backing
Students/Universities • Lower Attractiveness to • Students as Outspoken
Prospective Students Supporters
City Officials • Pittsburgh’s Economic • Public Support Drivers
Vitality and Livability • Political Implementation
“Port Authority: Understanding the Problem and Solution.” Allegheny Conference on Community Development. Accessed
Three Rivers Bike Share 6
Secondary Problem: Public Health and Exercise
Obesity and preventable illnesses related to exercise and diet are gaining attention in the media, government,
and consumer affairs but remain a significant problem for Americans. More than a third of adults in the U.S. and
17% of children in the U.S. are obese.2 Pittsburgh has the fourth highest population of obese adults in the
country.3 National movements to prevent these conditions and educate Americans, such as Michele Obama’s
Let’s Move! Campaign, have worked to get more people active and healthy. Major employers have introduced
corporate wellness programs en masse with the objective of lowering health insurance premiums. The
relationship between transportation and public health is gaining steam, as well. One example is Safe Routes to
School, a national program bridging children’s physical activity with mobility and safety. The perception of
transportation is shifting from being a necessary evil to an opportunity for exercise and community-building.
Putting the Problems into a Pittsburgh Context
Pittsburgh’s Downtown employment density ranks 6th in the nation, behind cities like New York City, San
Francisco, Washington D.C., Boston, and Miami.4 38.4% of all Downtown commuters use the public bus service
and another 15.6% use light rail.5 Both services will be severely impacted by the transit cuts projected in
September 2012. The small size of Pittsburgh’s Downtown relative to the size of its working population has
already resulted in the interesting phenomena of commuters parking
in lots located in areas adjacent to the Central Business District and
walking the last mile. Many downtown businesses now offer shuttle
services from these parking lots.
At the same time, Downtown Pittsburgh and adjacent neighborhoods
Strip District Parking Lot (Google Maps) are experiencing a Renaissance. A boom in the development of new
loft and condominium housing is particularly notable. 10 years ago,
Downtown Pittsburgh had little in the way of appealing urban living. In the Third Quarter of 2011, the Pittsburgh
Downtown Partnership reported 1,921 total housing units in Downtown and adjacent neighborhoods with
another 1,205 units in the pipeline. While this may not seem substantial compared to other major U.S. cities, in
2000, Downtown housing units numbered only 854.6 40% of Downtown Pittsburgh’s population is between the
ages of 25-397. Employers and developers target talented individuals within that age group, a demographic
coming to Downtown Pittsburgh in droves. In addition, resident student populations are growing and tourists
are travelling to Pittsburgh in greater numbers to partake in sporting or cultural events.
“U.S. Obesity Trends.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 2012. Accessed at
Miller, Harold. “Pittsburgh’s a National Players in Jobs per Square Mile, but Needs More Population.” Pittsburgh Post-
Gazette. 8 August 2008. Accessed at http://old.post-gazette.com/pg/08216/901307-432.stm.
“Downtown Pittsburgh: Living, Working, and Commuting.” Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership. Accessed at
“Downtown Housing Market Report: Third Quarter 2011.” Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership. Accessed at
Downtown Pittsburgh: Living, Working, and Commuting.” Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership. Accessed at
Three Rivers Bike Share 7
Through most of Pittsburgh’s history, industrial activity has centered in its river valleys. While some industry still
exists, the local economy’s transition from manufacturing to technology and medical research has freed up
substantial plots of land along the riverfronts. Developers have begun focusing on the underutilized land
adjacent to Downtown. In addition, the City of Pittsburgh and key interest groups have taken the lead on
introducing bicycle trails along all three of the city’s major rivers. Transportation has become a priority of the
City for the next several decades as part of the “Move” segment of its comprehensive plan. Currently in the
development phase, the “Move” segment will focus on incorporating non-automotive modes of transportation
since the City has little capacity to add mileage to the existing road network. Planning initiatives in nearby
neighborhoods also aim to improve transportation flow by integrating non-automotive transport. These
developments will enhance Pittsburgh’s deserved designation as America’s Most Livable City.8
The Solution: The Three Rivers Bike Share
In response to the problems and current trends, we propose the
introduction of a bike sharing system in Pittsburgh, dubbed the
Three Rivers Bike Share. A bike sharing system enables a member
to check out a bicycle from a network of automated stations, ride
to his/her destination, and return the bicycle to a different station.
Examples in the United States include programs in Washington,
D.C. and in two cities comparable to Pittsburgh: Denver and
Why Bike Sharing Will Work for Pittsburgh Nice Ride Minnesota Bike Share
Pittsburgh was named “America’s Most Livable City” in 2011, among other similar honorable and well-deserved
distinctions over the past decade. However, the Central Business District and adjacent areas have greater
potential to improve livability. Bicycle paths and bus-rapid transit lanes have improved the situation, but the
underlying issue of providing residents and workers with an efficient and sustainable means of travelling
medium distances still exists. New developments and transportation initiatives will create a denser urban fabric
while providing more bicycle infrastructure such as lanes and separated-grade trails. The time for bike sharing in
Pittsburgh has come, along with the infrastructure and the built environment that bike sharing systems need.
The crisis presented by repeated Port Authority transit cuts creates an opportunity for new transportation
modes. While not all transit riders will utilize a bike share, bicycles can serve to relieve congestion and provide
workers with another means for commuting. Residents and students can use the bike share to move around
Downtown Pittsburgh and adjacent areas. Low-income residents will have access to an affordable mode of
transportation to replace the bus system if they need it. Developers and property owners will promote the
newest improvement in Downtown living to potential tenants.
Most importantly, in the immediate face of substantial transit cuts, large Downtown employers could direct
their employees to an adaptable mode of transportation to ensure those employees’ continued ability to get to
“It’s Official. Pittsburgh is the Most Livable City in the U.S.” The Economist. 2011. Accessed at
Three Rivers Bike Share 8
work. Moreover, they can address health insurance concerns stemming from employing a largely sedentary
workforce. Some employees will likely drive most of the way to outlying parking and bicycle the remaining
distance. Some employees may choose to become regular bicycle commuters. The Three Rivers Bike Share
system will create options for commuters to adapt. The collective need for a transportation option like bike
sharing will drive the adoption of such a system.
Previous Steps Taken to Advance Bike Sharing in Pittsburgh
In June of 2011, B-Cycle, a top vendor of bike share systems in the United States, hosted a demonstration of a
bike share system in Downtown Pittsburgh. Later that summer, Pittsburgh Mayor Luke Ravenstahl’s chief of
staff, Yarone Zober, Scott Bricker, Executive Director of Bike Pittsburgh, and Stephen Patchan, the City of
Pittsburgh’s Bicycle-Pedestrian Coordinator all attended a workshop hosted by the Minneapolis biking
community. One of the primary initiatives stemming from that workshop was the development of a “Bike Share
Working Group” that was intended to investigate the feasibility and potential barriers to implementing bike
sharing in Pittsburgh. This working group is comprised of key Pittsburgh stakeholders including transportation
planners, representatives of neighborhood groups, and economic development interests.
Scott Bricker of Bike Pittsburgh was the primary client for a Carnegie Mellon University capstone project (from
which this competition entry sprung). That project team investigated the feasibility of bike sharing in Pittsburgh
and recommended it as a candidate city for a bike share program. However, additional steps are needed to
determine the appropriate mechanism to generate the necessary capital funding. The City of Pittsburgh also
submitted an application to the Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality program requesting $3.5 million of federal
funding for a bike share system for the City. The results of that application are not yet publicly known.
Assumptions about the Size and Scope of the Bike Share Program
Based on the feasibility report generated by the CMU capstone project, the Three Rivers Bike Share project team
made assumptions about the initial scope of bike sharing in Pittsburgh. Analyses indicated that the river valleys
of Downtown Pittsburgh and adjacent areas are the appropriate target neighborhoods for the project.
(Appendix A shows the identified neighborhoods). These areas constitute the first phase of the bike sharing zone
(Phase 1). Pittsburgh’s East End communities, home to a substantial portion of Pittsburgh’s population, its
universities, and medical facilities, compose the Phase 2 service area. The distinction reflects Phase 1 as a large
pilot but also pays credence to the topographical separation between the two zones.9
Additional analyses conducted by the CMU capstone project indicate that the ideal size of a bike share program
for the Phase 1 target area would consist of 42 stations and 502 bicycles. Also, given that most other cities are
either switching to year-round programs or considering that switch, the Three Rivers Bike Share team
determined that Pittsburgh’s bike share would operate year round.
It has been suggested that a sustained grade above 8% is the point where the typical bike rider refuses to travel uphill. A
grade of 4-8% will make riders think twice. The most heavily traveled streets between Phase 1 and Phase 2 have sustained
stretches where the grade is approximately 8%.
Three Rivers Bike Share 9
Structure of Three Rivers Bike Share
Having considered the size and scope of the initiative, the Three Rivers Bike Share team studied three potential
management structures for the program: a non-profit organization, a for-profit entity, and a public-private
partnership. A non-profit organization has the ability to solicit financial support from multiple sources, including
but not limited to, private companies, foundations, and residents. Additionally, the non-profit structure
reinforces community ownership of the project by providing accountability and responsiveness to the needs of
different communities. A for-profit entity would need to generate a substantial portion of its revenue from
advertising at a level that would likely not gain approval from major stakeholders. A public-private partnership
would require City funding and ownership. Pittsburgh, a bankrupt city since 2003, does not have the financial or
personnel capacity to support this venture.10 Thus, a non-profit structure offers the best opportunity for a long-
term successful bike share program. This model has been used successfully to introduce bike shares in Denver
Development of a Bike Pittsburgh-Supported Non-Profit
However, Bike Pittsburgh, the primary non-profit advocacy group promoting cycling in Pittsburgh, should not
add “managing a bike share program” to its activities. Their “mission is to establish Pittsburgh as a city that is
increasingly safe, accessible and friendly to bicycle transportation.”11 To this end, Bike Pittsburgh’s activities
consist of public awareness, outreach, events, education and advocacy. The management of a bike share
program would add another branch to the organization and may constitute mission creep.
The team proposes that Bike Pittsburgh take the first steps towards establishing Three Rivers Bike Share, a new
non-profit whose sole purpose would be to manage the program. Bike Pittsburgh would become the supporting
organization under IRS tax laws for the new bike share non-profit. It would have the responsibility of generating
start-up funding from foundations to support the creation of the new organization. These contributions would
fund staff members, the corporate outreach program, the public outreach program, and any other needed items
before Three Rivers Bike Share begins revenue-generating operations.
Bike Pittsburgh’s new staff would undertake the corporate and public campaigns, described below. They would
form the Board of Directors for Three Rivers Bike Share with leading corporate executives, celebrities and sports
figures, foundation leaders, and planners- all of whom must be bike share enthusiasts. Upon the formation of
the Board, the Three Rivers Bike Share would spin off of Bike Pittsburgh, taking all responsibility for the
implementation of the bike share program. The business model for the Three Rivers Bike Share is below:
“Municipalities Financial Recovery Act: Recovery Plan, City of Pittsburgh.” Accessed at
Bike Pittsburgh Mission. Accessed at http://bike-pgh.org/about/mission/.
Three Rivers Bike Share 10
Unlike most bike share programs in the U.S., Three Rivers Bike Share intends to finance its formation without
the government funds. Instead, it will generate start-up funding from foundations, corporations, and the public,
while covering operating costs with operating revenues. A vendor such as Alta or B-Cycle that has specific
expertise in operating a bike share program will manage the day-to-day operations of the program. After initial
formation, the Three Rivers Bike Share non-profit will be responsible for generating funding for program
expansion and conducting community outreach initiatives.
Major Barriers to the Successful Adoption of Bike Sharing in Pittsburgh
The Three Rivers Bike Share team envisions two major problems in the formation of a bike share in Pittsburgh. A
summary of Three Rivers Bike Share’s first year budget reveals a capital funding gap of $2.8 million.12 Details on
the calculations to determine projected costs and revenues can be found in Appendix B.
The numbers are based on conversations between Bike Pittsburgh Executive Director Scott Bricker and Alta Bicycle Share
Three Rivers Bike Share 11
Most cities in the United States that have implemented bike sharing have utilized federal grants to help cover
their capital costs. The table below shows a sample of the federal funding sources that other cities have utilized
to finance bike sharing systems.
Summary of Federal Funding Sources Utilized By U.S. Bike Shares
City Federal Funding Source Amount
Washington D.C. Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement Program $6,400,000
Chicago Tiger III $4,000,000
Boston Federal Transit Administration Grant $3,000,000
Minneapolis Federal Non-Motorized Transportation Pilot Program $1,750,000
Denver Democratic National Convention Host Committee $1,000,000
However, the Three Rivers Bike Share aims to fill the start-up funding gap using only private money. The
strategy for doing this will be outlined in the Campaign Plan section below.
The second problem that we anticipate hinges on acceptance of the program by residents in low-income
neighborhoods fearing gentrification. In some Pittsburgh communities, bicycles and bicycle infrastructure are
perceived as harbingers of future capital flowing into the neighborhood, increasing property values, and pricing
out low-income residents. Our strategy to confront this legitimate concern involves gaining their input in a
participatory planning process.
Targets for the Three Rivers Bike Share
As the model described above is deployed, Three Rivers Bike Share will be assessed by the following
performance criteria to ensure that it succeeds in bringing bike sharing to Pittsburgh:
Target Complete By Date:
Commitment of support from six (out of nine) City Council members Winter 2012-13
20 commitments of $100,000 each to close capital funding gap Spring 2013
Meet with 100% of all neighborhood organizations affected in Phase 1 Spring 2013
Generate local mass media coverage at least once per month Ongoing
500 pre-registered membership sold Fall 2013
Campaign Plan to Generate Financial and Public Support for a Bike Share
These financing and acceptance problems are found in all cities which have started or plan to start a bike share
program. In many cases, those cities received federal monies to cover capital costs. The Three Rivers Bike Share
team recognizes the scarcity of federal dollars. Thus, the objective focuses on local support to ensure the
financial sustainability of the project. Learning from the experience of Portland’s bike share project, we also
want to ensure its sustainability on a neighborhood level. Given the historically negative experience that low-
income neighborhoods have experienced with gentrification, Three Rivers Bike Share will carry out a public
relations campaign and hold community planning meetings. Business leaders will see public discussion and
Three Rivers Bike Share 12
support of bike sharing just as community leaders will see supportive business leaders and celebrities. This dual
approach to two seemingly separate problems creates a continuous positive feedback loop supportive of Three
Rivers Bike Share.
Why Downtown Organizations Will Support Bike Share
The preparations for a transit workers’ strike in 2008 provide insight when defining the impact of 35% transit
cuts. The primary proposed strategy for mitigating the impact of a strike called for publicizing the use of
peripheral parking lots. However, two of the primary peripheral lot locations are now in the process of being
redeveloped. Commuters will then park further out. Businesses may have to provide additional shuttle services
for their workforce. A bike share system provides these employers with an alternative as employees parking
further away can bicycle the last mile. Many employees that live in the residential neighborhoods in the bike
sharing zone can bicycle to work rather than walk or squeeze onto overcrowded and infrequent public transit.
While bike sharing would serve as another mode of transportation, it also promotes a more active lifestyle. In an
era of rising health insurance costs, employers want to find ways to reduce employee health costs. Many major
employers have instituted corporate wellness programs. The health benefits of bicycle riding are undisputed and
bike sharing would complement corporate wellness programs. Greater mobility and flexibility for employees
provides additional auxiliary benefits, such as navigating Downtown to run errands or grab lunch. Also, for
employers with multiple Downtown facilities, a bike share would enable employees to move easily between
locations. For example, PNC Bank employees, based in PNC Plaza, may need to travel to other locations such as
the US Steel Building or PNC Firstside Center on the Monongahela River. Finally, employers will have an
advantage in recruiting young, talented workers that prefer urban lifestyles.13 Luckily for the employers, Three
Rivers Bike Share will offer them the opportunity to participate in establishing the program!
How Do We Get Downtown’s Organizations on Board?
Three Rivers Bike Share aims to have 20 organizations
each contribute $100,000 to the capital costs of a bike
sharing program. The team acknowledges that many
organizations will want to donate money, but may not be
large enough to donate the full $100,000 while others may
want to donate more. This objective is merely a
benchmark. The strategy involves using the Allegheny
Conference as a forum to introduce the benefits of bike
sharing and what it could bring to Downtown’s employers,
developers, and residents.
The Allegheny Conference is a non-profit that serves as a medium for the executives of the Pittsburgh region’s
largest employers, universities, and non-profits to gather and promote the development of the local economy
While the focus was directly on large Downtown employers due to the sheer funding capacity available, other
organizations such as developers and universities are an important part of this model as well. The Three Rivers Bike Share
team envisions developers utilizing bike sharing as a tool to attract commercial and residential tenants to their buildings.
Universities would benefit from giving their students greater access to the surrounding communities.
Three Rivers Bike Share 13
and enhance the quality of life for the region’s residents. Member organizations represent over 220,000 jobs
and 110,000 students in the Pittsburgh region. One of the primary objectives of the Allegheny Conference is to
ensure that the region’s economy has the transportation infrastructure necessary for growth. While not all
members of the Allegheny Conference are located in the Downtown business district, they do recognize that a
healthy Downtown promotes a healthier region.
The Allegheny Conference has a history of promoting transit connectivity to Downtown. It was instrumental in
the establishment of the Port Authority of Allegheny County in the late 1950s and early 1960s.14 It worked
diligently with public and private stakeholders as well as with lawmakers in Harrisburg to get the necessary
legislation passed and form the Port Authority.
The Three Rivers Bike Share team will identify five or six executive members of the Conference who support
bicycling and active living. The team and other advocates of bike sharing will meet with each of them to show
how supporting bike sharing reflects their best interests in Downtown Pittsburgh. Those individuals would pass
on the idea of Three Rivers Bike Share to other companies, Downtown developers, and the university
community. They will deliver the proposal in the Allegheny Conference forum. Prominent business figures in the
Downtown business community vocally supportive of Three Rivers Bike Share at the Conference will convince
many others that bike sharing is worth pursuing.
Our targeted executives to communicate this message will have certain characteristics that increase the
likelihood they will support bike sharing. They may be avid bike riders, they may be promoting healthy initiatives
within their organizations, or they may have a significant segment of their workforce that is adversely impacted
by the potential transit cuts. In discussions with various stakeholders, we identified two prominent executives as
bicycle riders, Morgan O’Brien of People’s Gas and Electric and John Surma from U.S. Steel (also a former
chairman of the Allegheny Conference). We would like to identify four other executives to promote bike sharing.
“Conference History.” Allegheny Conference. Accessed at http://www.alleghenyconference.org/ConferenceHistory.asp
Three Rivers Bike Share 14
O’Brien, Surma, and the others will create awareness of bike sharing within the organizations that have the
financial wherewithal to bring it into existence without relying on government support. The benefits are clear
and the opportunity is now. Via the Allegheny Conference, O’Brien and Surma can feasibly get 20 separate
organizations to provide $100,000 in support.
While support from the business community is imperative to the success of a bike sharing program, community
support is no less crucial. In our model, business leaders can make a bike sharing program, but communities can
break the project if they do not support it. In Portland, legitimate concerns, not necessarily opposition, from
residents of low-income neighborhoods caused substantial delays in the implementation of the bike sharing
project. Some residents perceive the introduction of a bike sharing program or bicycle infrastructure as a
precursor to gentrification.
The Three Rivers Bike Share proposes a three-pronged solution to garner the support of residents and smaller
businesses in the targeted area. First, throughout the planning process, Three Rivers Bike Share will consult with
neighborhood groups and residents in community planning meetings. Eventually, Council members will attend
the meetings relevant to their district, adding importance, urgency and legitimacy. Second, the Three Rivers Bike
Share will host public relations events to draw attention to bike sharing; think barbeques or carnivals with
bicycling activities. Finally, public fundraisers will show the presence of supportive individuals, hopefully friends
and neighbors of prospective members, who want to identify with Three Rivers Bike Share.
Participatory planning invites community members to
become integral decision makers in the implementation of a
bike sharing system. While they will provide significant
feedback, just as importantly, they will take some ownership
for the program. The team will hold meetings and events in
each neighborhood throughout the advocacy and
implementation phases of the bike sharing program.
Pittsburgh’s many neighborhood groups will help in
generating support and interest in these community
meetings. Residents, small business owners, and workers
will have the opportunity to ask question and provide feedback on a number of important topics, including:
Their needs with regard to regular bicycle use
The best locations for placement of stations
Concerns of traffic and other potential negative externalities
Impact of bike sharing stations on the streetscape
In addition to neighborhood gatherings, Three Rivers Bike Share will host a number of events intended to raise
the profile of bike sharing within the City of Pittsburgh. Potential concepts could include high-profile celebrities
riding their bikes; for example, the Pittsburgh Steelers riding bicycles onto the field before their opening home
game. Another idea combines the concept of flash mobs with philanthropic walking fundraisers by hosting a
mass bike riding event throughout the city. Other events may consist of community clinics on how to ride and
maintain bicycles for individuals who have lacked consistent exposure to bicycling. Bike share booths at all major
Three Rivers Bike Share 15
neighborhood events is a given. High profile events will provide free media publicity for the bike share. Low
profile events will give people hands-on experiences meant to provoke positive associations with bike sharing.
Both types of events will raise the saliency of bike sharing in the public view, stimulating interest in the program.
Finally, donations from private individuals are a tangible sign of support in the community for a bike share.
While the Three Rivers Bike Share does not expect a substantial amount, potential matching opportunities from
the foundation community will increase the importance of any private donation. Foundations are more willing
to fund projects that potential users are excited about and support.
After initiating this positive feedback loop, Three Rivers Bike Share must maintain and build momentum and
excitement for the bike share program. With supportive measures in the business community and public
neighborhood groups’ approval, the third phase of implementation may begin: the legislative and regulatory
process. By this time, at least six Councilpersons have publicly expressed support and may have taken part in
community meetings. Now they must give legal legitimacy to the program.
Strategy to Navigate Legislative and Regulatory Processes
Once the community and financial support for a bike share has been established, Three Rivers Bike Share will
source a vendor to manage the day-to-day operations of the bike share and lead the process of approval and
station installation. As part of this process, two core pieces of legislation are required to facilitate the genesis of
the Three Rivers Bike Share. In addition, the Three Rivers Bike Share must work with the Department of Public
Works, the Department of City Planning, and various commissions that monitor and authorize changes to the
Ordinance Allowing Advertising on Bike Sharing Stations
Pittsburgh City Council will need to pass an ordinance that provides an exception on advertising regulations on
bike share stations. They passed a similar exemption in 2003 for public transit shelters. The proposed text of the
legislation is included as Appendix C.
R. Daniel Lavelle would be the most suitable sponsor for the bill for several reasons. First, his city council district
includes Downtown, the heart of the proposed Three Rivers Bike Share zone. Second, he chairs the Land Use and
Economic Development Committee, which is the most appropriate forum for legislation that makes adjustments
to the zoning code. Third, he has expressed interest in bike sharing programs generally.15
The ordinance allowing advertising on public transit shelters (2003-1523) was passed by a vote of 8-116. The lone
dissenting vote, Bill Peduto, still sits on Pittsburgh’s City Council. However, the bike sharing station advertising
legislation serves a similar public function, that of financing transportation infrastructure. Secondly, Councilman
Peduto has a record of support for green initiatives.17 For these reasons, this bill will likely garner at least the
In an interview on 4/9/12, we discussed only the idea of bike sharing, of which he is supportive. We did not ask about
political support. This should not be interpreted as political support for this specific program.
Pittsburgh City Council Resolution 2003-1523. Accessed at http://pittsburgh.legistar.com/Legislation.aspx.
Bill Peduto has a webpage specifically for green initiatives, accessible at http://www.billpeduto.com/code-green/.
Three Rivers Bike Share 16
same level of support. Furthermore, the proposed Phase 1 zone of the bike sharing system includes pieces of the
districts of five of the nine city council members, equivalent to the majority necessary to pass legislation.
Resolutions Allowing City Right-of-Way to be used for Bike Sharing Stations
While this proposal does not require the City of Pittsburgh to provide financial assistance to the Three Rivers
Bike Share, the City will need to permit the use of City property to host multiple bike sharing stations. Each
station placed in the public right-of-way owned by the City requires approval by City Council via this type of
legislation. The proposed text of the legislation is included in Appendix D.
Either Bruce Kraus, the chair of the Public Works Committee, or the member representing the relevant district
will sponsor bill(s) affecting a specific area. An act, passed in 2011, granting a local neighborhood development
group the right to use City right-of-way to build a “green” bus shelter was the model for this legislation. 18
Every bike share station located in either the public right-of-way or on private property visible from the public
right-of-way must navigate multiple approval processes. The Three Rivers Bike Share will work closely with the
Department of Public Works to identify station locations that do not interfere with city infrastructure and are
suitable for increased bike traffic in the surrounding streets.19
Additionally, the Three Rivers Bike Share will work closely with the various commissions that regulate and
monitor changes to the physical environment in the City of Pittsburgh. Bike sharing stations may require
approval from the Public Art Commission, the Public Historic Commission, the Zoning Board of Approvals, and
the Planning Commission. Prior to contracting with a vendor, the Three Rivers Bike Share will also reach out to
the Department of City Planning to initiate a design review process. After the vendor has been identified, it will
work with the Three Rivers Bike Share to obtain any necessary approvals from the various commissions.
There are a number of opportunities where the City of Pittsburgh could leverage its authority to further solidify
the existence of a bike share. For example, it could deploy incremental revenue generated in a Tax-Increment
Financing (TIF) district to be used to finance the construction of a new bike share station in that district. City
planning officials could also encourage developers to include considerations for bike sharing stations in the
development of their master plans. While these two examples are only a small sample of the potential actions,
they indicate how the City could massage the further growth of bike sharing without decreasing its coffers.
Pittsburgh City Council Resolution 2011-2171. Accessed at http://pittsburgh.legistar.com/Legislation.aspx.
It is worth mentioning that the installation of most bike sharing stations no longer requires the excavation of the surface
that they are docked on.
Three Rivers Bike Share 17
America’s Most Livable City into the Future!
Pittsburgh, America’s Most Livable City in 2011, still has substantial room for improvement. The introduction of
a bike sharing system offers the City and many key stakeholders an opportunity to leverage the funding cuts of
the local transit system to push for a new mode of transportation. A bike sharing system integrates well into the
vision of the City of Pittsburgh in 20 years. Substantial Downtown development and major non-automotive
transportation improvements are happening in the City of Pittsburgh.
The Three Rivers Bike Share offers Downtown’s organizations the unique opportunity to be the fulcrum in
bringing the next great improvement to Pittsburgh. Bike sharing will come to Pittsburgh because of the short-
term crises that it can help mitigate. However, it will remain in Pittsburgh because it will be a long-term positive
shock to the urban fabric of Downtown Pittsburgh. Rather than relying on cars and busses, Pittsburgh’s residents
and workers will take to the streets on bicycles like never before. Downtown and its adjacent neighborhoods will
be more integrated than ever and the city will be forever changed.
Three Rivers Bike Share 18
The Three Rivers Bike Share Team would like to thank all of those
that provided us with support through this process:
Robert Hampshire – Advisor
Rick Stafford – Advisor
Scott Bricker – Bike Pittsburgh
Don Carter – Carnegie Mellon University
Councilman R. Daniel Lavelle – City of Pittsburgh
Patrick Roberts – City of Pittsburgh, Department of City Planning
David Roger – Hillman Foundation
Three Rivers Bike Share 19
Appendix A: Map of Phase 1 Service Area Neighborhoods20
Source data for the map from the City of Pittsburgh, Department of City Planning.
Three Rivers Bike Share 20
Appendix B: Detail of Cost and Revenue Analysis
As identified in the “Major Barriers to the Successful Adoption of Bike Share in Pittsburgh” section, the cost
projections used were identified by Alta Bicycle Share in its discussions with Scott Bricker, Executive Director of
Bike Pittsburgh. Those costs were:
$4,000 per bike for infrastructure costs of bikes, stations, and additional infrastructure
$1,500 per bike for installation and advertising
$2,000 per year per bike for operating the system
Research conducted by the Three Rivers Bike Share team indicates that this is generally in line with the costs
that other cities have incurred already. The research found that the average cost for nine other cities was $4,700
per bike in capital costs and $2,000 per bike in operating costs.
The cost of advertising on public bus shelters in Pittsburgh is roughly an average of $1,000 for a four week
period (or roughly a month).21 Given that the advertising panels for a bike station would be approximately the
same size and are just as likely to be seen as advertising panels on a bus shelter, the public bus shelter
advertising rates were identified as a suitable proxy for the potential market for bike station advertising in
Pittsburgh. The assumption was also made that the prohibition on advertising for bus shelters in residential
areas would also apply to bike sharing stations. Therefore, it was assumed that only 75% of bike sharing stations
would be able to earn advertising revenue. The major caveat for this revenue stream must be that it requires
city council legislation to enable revenue generation to occur in this manner. The detail for the legislation is
provided in the “Strategy to Navigate Legislative and Regulatory Processes” section. The calculation provided is
Membership Fees and Use Revenue:
The projected membership fee and use revenue amount of $324,798 was directly derived from the amount
generated in the Nice Ride program in 2010.22 At that time, the Nice Ride program was approximately the same
Lamar Media Advertising Rates for the State of Pennsylvania. Accessed at
Nice Ride Minnesota, 2010 IRS Form 990. Available on guidestar.com
Three Rivers Bike Share 21
size as the proposed Three Rivers Bike Share. It is important to note that the Nice Ride program did not operate
through the winter at that time, whereas the Three Rivers Bike Share is expected to operate year-round.
Subsequently, this projection may be conservative in the context of the Three Rivers Bike Share. Additionally,
Nice Ride’s numbers have risen each subsequent year. Similar increases in the revenue collected by the Three
Rivers Bike Share would completely close the already small operating financing gap.
City Sponsoring Company Amount Length of Agreement Annual Amount
Denver Kaiser Permanente $450,000 3 years $150,000
Boston New Balance $600,000 3 years $200,000
Minneapolis Blue Cross, Blue Shield $1,000,000 Not Detailed N/A
London Barclay’s Bank $40,000,000 5 years $8,000,000
Title sponsorship for bike sharing systems has been a primary source of revenue for bike sharing systems. TRBS
has chosen to be conservative in defining the revenue potential as being roughly equivalent to the amount that
Boston received from New Balance. $200,000 per year appears to be an effective floor. If the corporate and
community engagement strategies are effective, there is potential for the naming rights to exceed this amount.
Healthcare organizations are natural candidates to be naming right sponsors due to the positive health
connotations that are associated with biking. In Pittsburgh, two major health care organizations, the University
of Pittsburgh Medical Center and Highmark, are in the midst of a very negative public dispute over their
respective roles in the medical industry in Pittsburgh. This rivalry and the bad publicity generated from it could
potentially incentivize these two organizations to be willing to pay more for the right to sponsor a bike share
program in exchange for the goodwill that will be created.
It is also important to note that if the sponsorship amount for the London bike share, Barclay’s Cycle Hire, was
scaled down by an order of magnitude equivalent to the difference in the size of that program and the Three
Rivers Bike Share, it would still suggest that the naming rights of the Three Rivers Bike Share could be equivalent
to $400,000 per year, which is a notable increase from the projected amount.
Three Rivers Bike Share 22
Appendix C: City Council Ordinance Allowing Advertising on Bike Sharing
An Ordinance amending the Pittsburgh Code of Ordinances, Title Nine, Zoning, Chapter 919, Primary Uses,
Sections 919.02 and Use Table, to include a definition and use standards for Bike Sharing Stations.
Be it resolved by the Council of the City of Pittsburgh as follows:
Section 1. Amending the Pittsburgh Code of Ordinances, Title Nine, Zoning, Chapter 919, Primary Uses, Sections
919.02 and Use Table, to include a definition and use standards for Public Information Kiosks, and Public Transit
Shelters as follows:
[16. Advertising Signs on Bike Sharing Stations, as follows:
Advertising signs shall only be permitted on bike sharing stations located within the public right-
of-way, which comply with the provisions of Chapter 419 of Title Four, Article I of the Pittsburgh
Code of Ordinances. Signs must meet the following criteria:
(a) Advertising signs shall not be located within any residential Zoning District:]
Amend Chapter 919, Primary Uses, Section 919.02, Use Table by adding the following use and definitions:
Bike Sharing Stations are free standing bicycle docks, usually having one map information board and an
electronic transaction system, located near a public right-of-way and designed primarily for the docking and
removal of bike share bicycles.
Amend Chapter 919, Primary Uses, Section 919.02, Use Table as follows:
Bike Sharing Stations are permitted in all zoning districts as a Use by Administrator's Exception; add A.95 to the
Amend Section 919.04.A Standards That Apply to Uses Listed in the Use Table by adding the following:
919.04.A.95 Bike Sharing Stations
(a) Bike Sharing Stations in areas zoned GT, DR, UNC, LNC, GI, UI, EMI, NDI, NDO, H, PO, OPR, GPR,
and all Planned Development Districts are permitted to have advertising;
(b) Signs shall not exceed twenty-four (24) square feet in display surface area per sign;
(c) There shall be a maximum of two (2) advertising signs or one (1) back to back sign on each station;
Three Rivers Bike Share 23
(d) Sign display area must be integral to the design of the structure and may not extend more than
five (5) inches from the face of the structure; and
(e) No advertising display shall exceed the height of the structure.
Three Rivers Bike Share 24
Appendix D: Resolution Granting Three Rivers Bike Share the Right to Use City
Resolution granting unto Three Rivers Bike Share, a 501c3 nonprofit, located at 1234 Liberty Avenue, Pittsburgh,
PA 15222, their successors and assigns, the privilege and license to construct, maintain and use at their own cost
and expense, a bike sharing station located on the sidewalk area at ____________ in the ___ Ward, ___ Council
District of the City of Pittsburgh.
Be it resolved by the Council of the City of Pittsburgh as follows:
Section 1. That Three Rivers Bike Share, 1234 Liberty Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA 15222, their successors and
assigns, are hereby granted the privilege to construct, maintain and use at their own cost and expense, an 25’ x
6’ aluminum, steel, and plastic bike sharing station. Also included will be solar panels, signage, and an electronic
transaction system, located __ back from the face of curb on _________ at __________. Three Rivers Bike Share
will maintain the project after installation in the ____ Ward, ___ Council District of the City of Pittsburgh.
The said encroachment shall conform to the provisions of their resolution and in accordance with the Plan
identified as Accession ____ on file in the Division of Surveys, Department of Public Works.
Section 2. The said Grantee prior to the beginning of the construction of said encroachment shall submit to
the Director of the Department of Public Works of the City of Pittsburgh a complete set of plans, in triplicate,
showing the location and all details of said construction. Said plans and said construction shall be subject to the
approval and supervision of the Director of the Department of Public Works.
Section 3. The encroachment herein granted shall be subject and subordinate to the rights of the City of
Pittsburgh and its powers and supervision over City streets, and also to Resolutions of the City of Pittsburgh
relating thereto, and to the provisions of any general Resolutions which have been or may be hereafter passed
relating to said construction, maintenance and its use on City streets and compensation for same.
Section 4. The said Grantee shall bear the full cost and expense of the repair of any street pavement
damaged, repair of sewer, water lines and other surface and sub-surface structures which may be in any way
damaged or disturbed by reason of the construction, maintenance, use and operation of said construction. All
work, including the repaving and repairing of any portion of the street damaged, shall be done in the manner
and at such times as the Director of the Department of Public Works may order and shall be subject to their
approval and supervision.
Section 5. The rights and privileges granted by their Resolution are granted upon the express condition
that the City of Pittsburgh, without liability, reserves the right to cause the removal of said construction upon
giving to the said Grantee at least three (3) months written notice through the proper officers, pursuant to a
resolution of Council, to the said Three Rivers Bike Share, 1234 Liberty Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA 15222, their
successors and assigns, to that effect and that the said Grantee shall when so notified at the expiration of the
said three (3) months forthwith remove said construction and replace street to its original condition at their own
cost and expense.
Three Rivers Bike Share 25
Section 6. That Three Rivers Bike Share, 1234 Liberty Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA 15222, shall be responsible
for and shall assume all liability, either of said Three Rivers Bike Share, 1234 Liberty Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA
15222, or the City of Pittsburgh, for damages to persons or property by reason of the construction, maintenance
and use of said encroachment and it is a condition of their grant that the City of Pittsburgh assumes no liability
for damage to either persons, or property on account of their grant, and that Three Rivers Bike Share, 1234
Liberty Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA 15222, for themselves, his successors and assigns, shall, by accepting the terms of
their Resolution, hereby indemnify, save harmless and defend the City of Pittsburgh from any and all damages
and claims for damages arising by reason of said construction, maintenance and use.
That Three Rivers Bike Share, 1234 Liberty Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA 15222, shall maintain in effect during the
entire period of their license the following insurance for the protection of the City of Pittsburgh, all premiums
being at the expense of the licensee, which insurance shall be non-cancelable except upon thirty (30) days
written notice to said City and which insurance shall cover and name said City as an additional insured:
Public Liability $ 100,000.00 - $ 300,000.00
Property Damage $ 50,000.00
Prior to commencement of their license and as required by said City, from time to time licensee shall submit
proof of the above insurance in the form of a certificate, duly attested by the proper officers or authorized
representatives of a responsible insurance company.
Section 7. The foregoing rights and privileges are granted subject to the following conditions, to wit: Their
Resolution shall become null and void unless within 120 days after its approval the said Three Rivers Bike Share,
1234 Liberty Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA 15222, his successors and assigns, shall file with the Department of Public
Works their certificate of acceptance of the provisions there of, said certificate to be executed by Three Rivers
Bike Share, 1234 Liberty Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA 15222
Three Rivers Bike Share 26