a Philadelphia Bike Share program is on its way! Philadelphia, Bike Share is FINALLY coming to a block near you!

Already popular in other cities ’round the world and one Philly residential building, a bike share program is in the works for our city. Mayor Michael Nutter & the administration are seeking a $3 million price tag from Philadelphia City Council, that would put 650 bicycles on the street by early 2014 for phase I. Phase II of the project would add an additional 550 bikes on the street.  Additional funds ($5-6 million) would come from federal, state or private funds to buy bikes, set up stations and establish the program. Riders, advertising on bikes & stations and corporate sponsors will cough up the operating costs of $23,000 per 10-bike station annually.

Since the Mayor’s Office of Transportation broke the news, the ‘bike sharing’ wheels are being set in motion: Philadelphia Environmental Council (PEC) will request proposals this week and bidding for companies is set for the spring.

How would the Philadelphia Bike Share program work?

This bike share program should encourage anyone to start biking – it isn’t limited to hipsters or current bikers. To use a bike, a rider would need to buy a daily, monthly or annual membership from a vending machine at a bike station. The first half-hour would be FREE, and then about $5 per half-hour after that.

Bikes would be heavier (40 lbs), 3-speed models with broad seats, step-through frames, fenders & wire baskets to deter theft. (I’m hoping they change their minds and implant some fixed-gears to No’ Libs and outside of Tattooed Mom’s.)

Two hurdles in the plan: Philly planners haven’t figured out how to allow people without banking cards (aka credit & debit) in on the fun and what to do about helmets. Typically bike share programs require plastic to deter theft (and tack on huge penalties if bikes go missing), but that leaves out low-income users. Helmets are essential to distribute, but where (and how) would they be distributed?

According to an insider at the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia, Mayor Nutter dropped the bike sharing bomb on his recent trip to China before making the announcement over here. The rumor also made its way onto the Twitterverse:

 

Are you psyched for this program? Anything you’d like to see with the bike share program, Philadelphia edition?

Photo:  Bike Portland (of Lyon, France)

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  • Ben

    Could we instead spend this money on additional bike racks or covered storage options in the city? Or, more and better bike lanes? It seems to me that these factors limit cycling more than inability to own bicycles. Alternatively (to improve bike access), the city could just give everybody a little money toward a new bike, or buy them outright for those who truly can’t afford them. Seems cheaper, less complicated, and more effective than the bike sharing program that’s proposed.

  • Jen

    This is great news. I tried out bike sharing this past summer in Montreal. I came prepared with a helmet…something which people will just have to do with bike sharing (or not, if they are into brain injuries). I saw loads of people using the bikes, with ease. Granted, Montreal is an incredibly bike friendly city, but Philly has to start somewhere. I think this program will help people to become more familiar with city biking. At the same time, the more bikes on the road mean more awareness on the drivers’ parts. The issue with the machines only accepting credit cards is too bad…I don’t really see why it’s a problem for them to accept cash. Hopefully that will get worked out. As far as helmets, maybe if you purchase a monthly (etc.) card, you can get a discount on a helmet from a retailer in town. Just a thought!

  • http://www.greenphillyblog.com Julie

    Ben, it would be great for people to buy their own bikes. Often, city residents are hesitant to bike with safety, theft & other concerns. I think a bike share program would help encourage riders realize how easy it is, and hopefully they’d want to buy their own bike. Also, it’s great for tourists and visitors to get around Philly.

    Jen, thanks for sharing & hope you had fun in Montreal! We have heard that the more bikes on the road, the safer it is (since cars/etc are more on the lookout.) Let’s hope this increases Philly’s biking stats even more!

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