Philadelphia’s citywide bike share program is rolling along

This time next year, Philadelphia may finally have a citywide, point-to-point bike share program.

That’s what Deputy Mayor for Transportation Rina Cutler said Tuesday afternoon during a demonstration from bike share vendors who will soon be vying to operate the city’s program.

“We expect to finish a business plan analysis in the next couple of weeks and we’re hoping to have an RFP on the street sometime in the late summer,” Cutler said.

She said the program’s first phase will roll out in summer 2014.

Mayor Michael Nutter was among the city officials who took a look at the wares, which included helmet vending machines, bicycles that can be tracked via GPS locators and solar-powered, movable docking stations from which bikes can be accessed by membership swipe cards or by paying a one-time fee.

Cities such as Washington, D.C. and New York have already successfully established similar bike share programs.

“As we’ve seen in those other cities, it’s not only a great way to get around, a social component, but there’s a financial component, as well,” Nutter said, noting advertising space on the bikes could be leased to generate city revenue.

“I do think we are well built – particularly the downtown and the core surrounding the downtown – and will run a very successful bike share program financially because we’re not using money from the city operating budget,” Cutler said.

The city has allocated $3 million in its capital budget to pay for constructing the bike share program’s infrastructure.

Cutler said those monies are expected to be matched by state and federal dollars, as well as corporate sponsors.

She said once it’s up and running, the bike share program will be self-sufficient, sustained by membership dues and fees.

Commuters will be able to “check out” a bike from one location and drop it off at a number of other stations.

“Universities have engaged us in discussions about citing on their locations, as have many developers,” Cutler said.

“We have a little bit of city envy of others who’ve come before us, but we have learned from them.”


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