With recent approval of a contract with B-Cycle, Broward County commissioners took a big step in initiating a bicycle-sharing program in the county.
The bike-sharing program is intended to reduce traffic congestion as well as reduce carbon monoxide emissions while also providing residents and tourists a cheapr way to travel.
“We’re hoping to generate interest and I think that there are a lot of people that want to ride bikes,” said Commissioner Kristin Jacobs who spearheaded the bike-sharing program. “We don’t have a system in our county that makes [bike-riding] as safe as it could be and with launching this with B-Cycle, it’s just the beginning of looking at the county-wide effort to understand where the [bicycle-friendly] gaps are in our system.”
To access the public bicycles, 20 bike stations are scheduled to be setup in Fort Lauderdale, Hollywood and Pompano Beach. To rent a bike, users can swipe their credit card or a pre-purchased card that allows rentals daily or monthly, which can be returned at any kiosks.
Where exactly the bike stations will be located is still being studied, possibly near the beach or downtown area in Fort Lauderdale. The official launch of the program is expected in April 2011.
At the launch, 200 blue bikes will be available for use for residents 18 years and older with plans to add about 375 more bicycles over a five-year period.
“We have a long way to go, but the point is to start,” Jacobs said.
The county will purchase the bikes through a Florida Department of Transportation grant. B-Cycle will manage and operate the program, which will feature bicycles that have tracking systems. B-Cycle, which has managed similar bike-sharing programs in Denver and Chicago, will be responsible for the liability and maintenance of the bikes.
“At the end of the day, it’s about health and wellness in the most environmentally sustainable way you can come up with,” Jacobs said.
As the bike-sharing program moves forward, Jacobs said discounts for bike riders could be offered at various restaurants and retailers near the beach and downtown areas to encourage more residents to try the program.
“Anytime you can get a car off the road for a short trip, it’s better for the environment and it’s better for the people pedaling their bikes,” Jacobs said. “We’re trying to get people to use the bikes as a mode of transportation.”
The above picture is the stripped down model. Here is a picture of the ones being used in Chicago.