More Cities Share Bikes
Friday, July 9, 2010
Hmm, I don't hear Nashville wimpering "we don't have any money"
The city will be launching a pilot bike share program, starting with a fleet of 30 bikes in two locations and expanding to thousands of bikes citywide by next spring.
"We don't really have a biking culture in this city," said Toks Omishakin, the man Nashville MayorKarl
Dean has charged with the job of turning the city into a bicycle-friendly, pedestrian-friendly mecca. "But change is happening. If you build it, they will come."
What Nashville has built are two pilot bike stations — one at Shelby Bottoms and one at the Music City Star riverfront train station on First Avenue South. There, any Davidson County resident can take one of the city's new bright yellow and blue one-speed bikes out for a spin.
An attendant will take down the cyclists' driver's license information, provide them with a helmet if they don't have one of their own and send them on their way with a map of the city's bike paths, bike lanes and suggested cycling routes — and the understanding that they will return the bike.
The pilot locations were chosen because they will attract plenty of people on foot, looking for a way to get around without a car. In Shelby Bottoms, park visitors could take the bikes for a spin on the greenway's miles of bike paths. The train station bikes might appeal to the Music City Star commuters.
Bike share programs are popular in Europe and in a growing number of American cities — includingWashington, D.C., Denver, Minneapolis and Portland, Ore. Boston, Chicago and San Antonio are in theprocess of launching pilot programs of their own.
The question will be whether a bike share program appeals in a city where most people use their bikes for weekend recreation, not weekday commutes. Omishakin, Metro's new director of healthy living, is investing$300,000 out of a multi-million dollar grant from the U.S. Health and Human Services Department, hoping it will.