Member Spotlight: Heartland Bike Share

Heartland Bike Share is a 501c3 non-profit organization that exists for the development,promotion, and operation of bike sharingprograms throughout the Heartland region for the benefit of the general public, aimed at promoting health and quality of life as well as mitigating climate change and promoting the use of sustainable forms of transportation.  Heartland Bike Share operates three bike share programs across two states, seven counties and multiple communities.  The bike share programs are Heartland B-cycle (Omaha Metro), BikeLNK (Lincoln, Nebraska), and Valentine Bike Share (Valentine, Nebraska).

Valentine Bike Share
Valentine Bike Share was launched last summer and is the continent’s most rural bike share program (that we know of!). It is a seasonal program and they are reopening the bike share station this month!  It gives folks a chance to ride a bike throughout the town of Valentine as well as along the Cowboy Trail to the beautiful Valentine pedestrian bridge.

The BikeLNK program itself is a city government & nonprofit partnership, with the City of Lincoln as the equipment owner and Heartland Bike Share as the contracted operator, which works closely as a team for project success and sustainability.  2020 saw the placement of a visitors-focused grant awarded station and 5 bicycles meant to increase mobility options for travelers to the Capital City. Two community endowment grant-funded equity programs, RX-a-BikeLNK and Library Pass, were created to break barriers of low income, chronic health conditions, unstable housing, and limited access to reliable on-demand public transit by providing free membership passes to under-resourced populations through targeted partnerships with community organizations, private, philanthropic, nonprofit, and government entities. Generating a high rate of daily BikeLNK trips, the local University partnered with Heartland Bike Share for the expansion of a popular station in order to better serve student populations affected by COVID protocols and social distancing in public transit. Working with our equipment vendor, BCycle, BikeLNK was able to demo an e-bike fleet consisting of 25 e-bikes since March 2020, which resulted in increased trip times, 3x trips per e-bike model, and frequent requests to bring more e-bikes permanently in the program.

A group of Heartland Bike Share riders.Heartland B-cycle
This past December, Heartland B-cycle formalized a relationship with the City of Omaha’s Parking & Mobility Division allowing both entities to share expertise and collaborate to successfully reach and maintain the overall goal:  supporting the overall transportation, safety and well-being of residents while creating more multimodal infrastructure and curbside management.

This past year, Heartland B-cycle partnered with two youth mentoring art organizations and embarked on an Art Bikes project.  We provided 20 bike share bikes in need of a touch-up as a canvas to local youth artists ranging from 12-18 years old. The program was a great success and made a larger impact than we could have ever imagined. One of the youth artists stated, “I want people to have a freeing feeling when they see and ride my bike. I hope it meets the bicyclist wherever they are. I believe that both art and getting outdoors to move your body are the best ways to express and release all the troubles and blessings of life.” Take a peek at the art bikes here:  Heartland B-cycle Art Bikes

The City of Omaha recently launched Omaha Rapid Bus Transit (ORBT) which is the most significant mass transit investment this region has seen in decades.  ORBT unites smart technology and streamlined travel for faster, more frequent public transportation, serving an eight-mile route and this Spring Heartland B-cycle will be adding new bike share stations and e-bikes to the ORBT bus stops to further assist Omaha’s public transportation needs.

When asked what the best thing about being a NABSA member, Heartland stated that learning from fellow bike share operators across the country.  Working in an up-and-coming industry is thrilling, but sometimes difficult to navigate. With NABSA’s help bringing micromobility operators together across North America, no bike share organization is doing this work alone. What others are doing that is successful in their communities and implementing those processes with partner organizations makes everyone better able to serve theirs locally. NABSA should be a “go-to” resource tab on everyone’s browser that is reading this!