A bike share program like those embraced in other cities will be started later this year in downtown Oklahoma City.
Such programs have “stations” where bicycles are checked in and out with a deposit placed on one's credit card. A nominal charge is sometimes paid for use of the bicycles; final details of the downtown arrangements are pending negotiation of a vendor contract.
Jennifer Gooden, director of the city's sustainability office, hopes to start a pilot program with four locations this fall, with a full program launch next spring. She is still meeting with vendors, though she envisions the program will ultimately include about 90 bicycles.
“It will all be in the central city — Automobile Alley, Bricktown, downtown, and it could go up into the medical business district,” Gooden said.
Similar programs have proved popular in other cities, with The Washington Post recently reporting a bike share program in the nation's capital suffers from having not enough bicycles to meet demand.
Locally, a bike share program was started a few years ago at the University of Central Oklahoma.
“We want to increase transportation options downtown and provide convenience to those wanting to get around,” Gooden said. “With the shared bike program, you can use the bike for a while and then drop it off when you don't need it anymore. And having people on bikes contributes to street life, and that's good for everyone. And it's a healthier way of getting around.”
Project 180 origin
The bike share program is being planned as more bicyclists are being seen downtown even during the ongoing heat wave. The city is creating bicycle lanes and adding bike racks throughout downtown as part of the $141 million Project 180 makeover of the urban core.
Steve Schlegel, owner of Schlegel Bicycles, 900 N Broadway, is hoping one of the bike share stations will be set up next to his shop, which is within walking distance of several restaurants, offices and shops.
“For a lot of people, and I have firsthand experience at this myself, it's so much more efficient to jump on a bike to get to a meeting and not struggle for parking,” Schlegel said. “With the Project 180 in the works, it addresses bicycle commuting. For almost every roadway, there is bicycle infrastructure being put in place.”
Schlegel said he doesn't view the bike share program as potential competition.
“It will inspire people to realize the ease of getting around by bike,” Schlegel said. “It will have a very positive impact on future use of bicycles downtown.”