A bike sharing program for the downtown Raleigh area and at five university campuses has been adopted by the Raleigh City Council. It has great promise.
Consultants have told the city it will take two years to launch it, which is curious, but Eric Lamb, the city’s transportation planning manager, says it could move along in a shorter period. It should.
This is good news, but of concern is cost. The city’s staff says it will cost $653,000 annually to operate the program, with more than $200,000 of that offset by fees. And some private sector businesses – Citrix and Rex Healthcare have been mentioned – are stepping up to contribute as well, though names were not released. Wake commissioners also may put money in the game.
The fee system sounds complicated, perhaps too complicated, but there is time to work out a system that will serve all. As it stands, bikes will be free for 30 minutes as long as the bikes are returned, $4 for an additional half hour, $8 for 24 hours and an $80 fee for a year’s unlimited use. Most of the payments presumably would be with credit cards, which some potential riders might not have. So that’s something for the council to consider. And what about helmets?
Sponsorships should be plentiful, but the council must disclose private donors and the amounts they are giving. That’s just a simple necessity in doing the public’s business.
Overall, though, a bike sharing program offers much benefit to a city trying to help the increasing numbers of workers, particularly downtown, who want to break their automobile habit.