Some good news for bicyclists in my hometown: The Fort Worth Transportation Authority, the T, is considering a bike-sharing program.
“The concept of a bike-sharing program is still in the early stages, and the T would likely need grant funds to pay the initial costs,” the Fort Worth Star-Telegram said in a story published today, quoting T spokeswoman Joan Hunter.
“The T’s long-term strategic plan adopted last year called for starting a bike-sharing program within five years, but if there is enough interest the program could be up and running in about a year, she said.”
A bike-sharing program would be the latest step toward attaining for Fort Worth recognition by the League of American Bicyclists as a “Bicycle Friendly Community” by 2015.
The city has long had an extensive, excellent network of bicycle trails, mostly along the Clear and West forks of the Trinity River. The City Council unanimously approved on Feb. 9, 2010, a “comprehensive bicycle transportation plan,” called Bike Fort Worth, and a safe-passing ordinance to protect cyclists on March 1, and the city has lately been creating bike lanes on major thoroughfares in and around downtown.
With a bike-sharing program, the Star-Telegram said, users would “pay a nominal fee in exchange for the right to use bicycles stationed at locking bike racks throughout the city whenever they need a pair of wheels.
“Officials at the T recently met with a manufacturer, who explained how bike-sharing programs work in other cities,” the newspaper reported. “Generally, a city of Fort Worth’s size would need $500,000 to $800,000 to start a program, including the cost of buying approximately 200 three-speed bikes and a few dozen bike racks that could be placed around the city.”
Many cities around the world have bike-sharing programs — Paris, London, Stockholm, Copenhagen, Barcelona, Montreal, Melbourne and Mexico City, for example. In the United States, Denver, Washington, Miami and Madison, Wis., are among cities with bike-sharing programs.
That program, called “San Antonio B-cycle,” was launched with the help of federal stimulus funds and grant money from the U.S. Energy Department and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said a March 27 story in the San Antonio Express-News.
A local bicycle shop, Bike World, won a contract from the city to run the program. Bike World created a nonprofit called San Antonio Bike Share to administer B-cycle and will maintain the bikes and run the daily operations.
Cindi Snell, executive director of B-cycle and co-owner of Bike World, said a full-time operations manager will monitor bike maintenance and ensure that the bikes are evenly distributed throughout the Alamo City.
A total of 140 bikes will be distributed among 14 docking stations in or near downtown San Antonio, the Express-News reported. “Users can rent the bicycles free for the first half-hour and $2 for each half-hour after that, or pay $10 and keep them 24 hours. A seven-day membership is available for $24, and an annual pass costs $60 for adults and $48 for seniors or students.”
Here’s hoping that a bike-sharing system can succeed in Fort Worth, still a very car-centric city despite the efforts to make it more bicycle-friendly. One online comment on the Star-Telegram story reflected skepticism: “I can see the headlines now ‘Bikers cause slow traffic in Fort Worth,’ ‘Biker Killed by Speeding Vehicle.’ Not sure the risk is worth the reward here.”