Transportation planners who are considering a bike-sharing program for Fort Worth, my hometown, can draw some encouragement from Washington, D.C.
Since the nation’s capital introduced Capital BikeShare on Sept. 20, the program “has become so popular, it may become a victim of its own success,” National Public Radio reported Monday.
And therein lies a problem: “The main complaint people have about the BikeShare system is that so many people are using it, it can be impossible to find a bike, especially at rush hour,” Fenston said.
Capital BikeShare is the largest bicycle-sharing program in the United States with about 1,100 bikes at 114 stations around the the District of Columbia and Arlington, Va. It has 12,000 members who pay an annual fee of $75 and records 4,000-6,000 trips per day in the prime riding season.
A user can check out a bike at any of the stations and return it to another. The first 30 minutes of each trip are free. Each additional 30 minutes incurs a fee.
During its first eight months of operation, Capital BikeShare has exceeded expectations for its first year.
Besides the shortage of bikes at peak periods, another glitch in the Capital BikeShare system is “dockblocking,” which occurs when too many users show up at the same station and all the bike “docks” are filled.
Washington is one of about 10 U.S. cities that already have bike-sharing programs, among them Denver and San Antonio. “Now Boston is planning to launch this summer,” NPR said. “San Francisco has a regional system in the works. And New York City is looking to roll out some 10,000 shared bikes early next year.”
In Fort Worth, a bike-sharing system would be run by the Fort Worth Transportation Authority, or the T.
“Officials at the T recently met with a manufacturer, who explained how bike-sharing programs work in other cities.” the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reported on May 18.
“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.”
The bike-sharing idea is still in the early stages, and the T would likely need grant funds to pay the initial costs, the Star-Telegram quoted T spokeswoman Joan Hunter as saying.
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.
If Washington is any indication — in the words of a catchphrase from the 1989 film Field of Dreams — “If you build it, they will come.”