It’s one of those who-woulda-thunk-it moments: Fort Worth, one of the most conservative of Texas cities and a place where cars and pickups still rule the road, is about to implement a bicycle-sharing program!
Fort Worth, in an area where some folks are still suspicious of bikes as precursors of socialism, plans to launch its B-Cycle system on Monday, Earth Day, with 28 rental stations and 300 bikes. Two to five more docking stations are to be added this summer.
I and 299 other volunteers will report on Monday morning to a warehouse on the city’s near south side, where the bicycles have been assembled and stored, to select a bike and ride it downtown for an official launch ceremony. Then we will deliver the bikes to their designated stations.
I rode my own bike around Fort Worth earlier this week to check out some of the bike-share stations, a half-dozen of which are on the near south side, which has become the focal point of the city’s burgeoning bicycle culture.
Fort Worth will have the first bike-share system in North Texas — beating Dallas — but following Houston and San Antonio.
Fort Worth’s system will be run by a nonprofit organization, Fort Worth Bike Sharing, and will use specially designed Trek bicycles, each equipped with a commodious front metal basket at the front.
The program was made possible by a $1 million Federal Transit Administration grant to the Fort Worth Transportation Authority (The T) last July to buy the bikes and equipment for the docking stations.
B-Cycle, based in Madison, Wis., was chosen as the equipment vendor. B-Cycle provides the equipment and software for the bike-share systems in San Antonio and Houston, as well as for Denver and other U.S. cities.
When I and my family moved to Fort Worth at the end of 1986 after 16 years living overseas, the city had some nice pedestrian and bike trails along the Trinity River, but little else in terms of biking infrastructure or a culture of like-minded people.
But over the past few years, Fort Worth has made tremendous strides in its effort to become a “bike-friendly community” in the eyes of the League of American Bicyclists by 2015.
The City Council approved a comprehensive bicycle transportation plan in 2010, the Trinity River trails are continually expanded and improved, funky cycling groups like the Night Riders and Bicycle Betties have taken to the streets, major thoroughfares have been striped with bike lanes, and we have a bike-riding mayor who holds regular “rolling town halls” from the saddle of her bicycle.
And now a bike-share program.
Who woulda thunk it!