Bike sharing coming to Gainesville
Published April 20th, 2016
GAINESVILLE, Fla.--The Alachua County Office of Sustainability invited citizens to a Lunch & Learn to discuss a new bike sharing program in Gainesville.
"You can have either a daily pass, a monthly pass or an annual pass," explains Scott Wright who is part of the planning division in the public works department.
The popular pay-as-you-go bike sharing concept is coming to Gainesville. Initially, it will cost $5 for a daily pass, $15 for a monthly pass and $25 for an annual pass. Once you have a pass, everything operates through a Smartphone. You simply send a text to reserve a bike.
"We are working on a pilot program through the city for bike share and the pilot program will be kicking off in May," explains Wright.
There will be two bike sharing stations. One at Bo Diddley Plaza and the other near Innovation Square. The city is going to start with 16 bikes. Those bikes have already been funded through the city of Gainesville.
"We hope to grow the program over time with more stations," says Wright. But some argue two stations is too small of a roll-out. "I think unless you start with more locations, you are fighting the fact that people want that convenience right away," says long-time Gainesville resident Joanne Auth. "If you don't have enough investment in it initially, it's not going to go anywhere if people have to walk too far to get the bikes."
The new bike sharing program will differ from the Yellow Bikes Program the city tried 16 years ago. "As many of us predicted from the get-go, within a few weeks, you couldn't find them anywhere," says Auth.
The Yellow Bikes Program relied on the honor system. With this new bike sharing program, you have to have a pass. "Now if you have to rent a bike, that means you're putting your credit card on the line and they've got you!," explains Auth.
The University of Florida started its own bike rental program last Fall where students could rent a bike for a semester at a time. The university is now having to double its initial fleet of 100 bikes to accomodate student demand. Jacob Adams with UF's office of sustainability was inivited to attend the city's discussion to provide insight on how UF has been successful.
"They wanted to hear about how the program functions, who the programs are serving and what kinds of cycling opportunities it presents for students and faculty on campus," explains Adams.
The city of Gainesville bike sharing program will kick off at Bo Diddley Plaza on May 6th. "May is national bike month, so at our kickoff here on May 6th at Bo Diddley, we'll have the mayor read a proclamation proclaiming such and we'll have a ribbon cutting for the first bike sharing station," says Wright.
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