Philly Bike Share to be Up and Running Summer/Fall of 2014

Philly Bike Share to be Up and Running Summer/Fall of 2014

It looks like all systems are go for the proposed Philly Bike Share: Mayor Michael Nutter gathered with reps from bike-share programs in DC, Boston and Denver early this month to drum up support and interest for Philly’s in-the-works bike share program The mayor has already earmarked $3 million in bike-share seed money from the capital budget—with more on the way, he hopes, from state, federal and private sources to help get it off the ground.

The Boston, DC and Denver reps gathered at the Academy of Natural Sciences, along with our own Deputy Mayor for Transportation and Utilities Rina Cutler and Andrew Stober of the Mayor’s Office of Transportation and Utilities, for a panel discussion on how to get a successful bike-share program off the ground. After each city rep gave a 10-minute presentation on their programs, Stober briefly outlined a plan for Philly’s system. Highlights include:

• According to the proposed timeline, Philly’s bike-share program should be up and running by summer or fall 2014.

• Philly’s bike-share program will be rolled out in phases, with stations first going into the Center City area—basically from river to river and South to Spring Garden streets, give or take a block or two. Phase II will see the addition of more bikes and stations in areas like West Philly and surrounding neighborhoods, including Fishtown, Point Breeze and Temple.

• Philly’s system will launch with between 100 and 120 stations and include about 1,500 bikes. Planners are aiming for a station density of 13 stations per square mile in the “core area” (i.e. Center City), with an overall density system-wide of eight stations per square mile.

• The team is currently scouting locations for where stations will be located. They were vague on specifics but said they’ve already identified 130 potential sites where bike stations would fit without taking away any parking spots.

• Like DC’s program, Philly’s will most likely be a 24-7, year-round operation. In the event of inclement weather, like snow storms when schools are closed, operators have the ability to lock down the system until the weather clears.

Potential safety issues with bike-share systems were also addressed. Although none of the other bike-share programs require users to wear helmets (Denver said they’ve had no injuries in the few years they’ve been up and running, and DC, which had the largest program of all, reported about 60 accidents, none of which involved head injuries). Helmet vending machines were developed by students at MIT. Helmets can be taken from the bike-pickup station and recycled at the drop-off station. Used helmets will be brought back to headquarters at the end of the day to be sanitized. Although Philly’s city officials didn’t say whether the helmet machines would make an appearance here, most everybody agreed that a helmet system of some kind is a must.

Between now and launch date, the city will host several more bike forums to answer questions and gauge interest in the program.

Read the full article by Emily Leaman at Philadelphia Magazine’s Be Well Philly



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