A bike share system could open in Louisville as soon as next summer, according to city officials. The program has been quietly brewing under the radar for months, and details are now beginning to emerge on the city’s planned 30-station, 300-bike system. Louisville selected newcomer Miami-based CycleHop to run the program and has identified a list of several dozen proposed dock locations around the core city. Now, a public meeting is being held on Tuesday, December 16 (details below) to get community input on the project.
Bike share systems have been popping up all over the world in the past few years. The program allows users to rent bikes for short-term use with memberships by the day, week, or year with varying prices. Bikes typically can be used for a short period of time before they must be returned to a docking station.
The idea is that a bike share system fills in the gaps of a public transit system, allowing for easy riding over short distances. Such programs are not meant to serve as bike rental programs where bikes are used all day long. Bike share allows users to pick up a bike at one station and leave it at another, making, for instance, grabbing lunch or riding to a meeting across Downtown much easier than taking a bus or driving a car.
According to the Courier-Journal, the city will invest $1.63 million to set up the stations ($1.3 million from a federal grant, $250,000 from the city, and $70,000 from the University of Louisville), which would be located off the street in parking lots and other vacant parcels.
According to a press release from Metro Louisville, “Prices are projected at $3 for a single use of 30 minutes or less, or $7 for unlimited trips totaling no more than 60 minutes within a 24-hour period.” The system is funded through these user fees and advertising sponsorships on bikes and stations.
Louisville’s proposed bike stations include:
River Road and Witherspoon
Washington and Cable
6th and Washington
8th and W. Market
4th and W. Main
1st and E. Main
N. Preston and E. Main
5th and W. Main
S. Clay and E Market
S. Shelby and E. Market
6th and W. Jefferson
4th and W. Jefferson
2nd and W. Jefferson
Floyd and W. Market
Hancock & Liberty
5th and Muhammad Ali
2nd and Guthrie
1st and Gray
6th and Chestnut
4th and Broadway
Floyd between Chestnut and Abraham Flexner
Floyd and Broadway
Jackson and Chestnut
Old Louisville (South of Broadway, North of Cardinal Dr.)
4th and Library
S 4th Street and Breckinridge
1st and Oak
S 4th and Park
Gaulbert and S 4th St
Brook and E Cardinal Blvd
Floyd St at Parking Garage
4th and Guthrie
U of L Belknap Campus
Cardinal and Brook
Cardinal and 4th
U of L Rec Center
Brandies and 3rd
Brandies and 1st
E Centennial Walk
W Shipp St Walkway
CycleHop’s website shows two different style systems, Smart Dock Systems where bikes are locked to specific geographic points with payment kiosks integral to the stations, and Smart Bike Systems that includes a built-in lock on each bike that allows them to be locked to traditional bike racks.
CycleHop works with New York–based Social Bicycles and is just beginning to grow across the continent. Ottawa, Canada is transferring from a BIXI bike share system, similar to those in large cities like Chicago, Washington DC, and New York, to the CycleHop system. According to CBC News, the system operates more like a car-share program than traditional bike share:
Social Bicycles website compares their service to car-sharing services such as VRTUCAR, where bicycles are equipped with a keyboard and GPS instead of putting that technology in the bike rack.
Users get an ID number they can use to reserve a bicycle online or punch into a keyboard of a bike they come across to take it in-person.
According to CycleHop’s website, the company runs bike share programs in a number of cities, but none of those programs has been operational for more than a couple months. Phoenix just launched a 500-bike system with the same supplier in late November. Santa Monica, California just chose CycleHop to open a bike share system in 2016. San Ramon, a suburb of San Francisco, is also using the company. Atlanta’s 500-bike system has been delayed until next Spring. Orlando’s system is expected to open this month.
A 300-bike system launched in Tampa in November. Bikes in that city appear similar to ones that could hit Louisville’s streets. According to the Tampa Tribune:
The bikes are modeled after Danish cruisers of the 1950s and ’60s. There’s really nothing to compare them to on the roads today, Trull said. New York-based Social Bicycles designing the bike for ease of use and durability.
The three-speed bikes have a step-through design and all of the moving mechanisms are internal — brakes, gearing, and, most importantly, a drive shaft rather than traditional chain, preventing pant-legs from catching in a moving chain or getting greasy while pedaling. The 26-inch wheels have Kevlar tires.
The seat can be adjusted to accommodate riders from 4-foot-8 to 6-foot-7.
At 39 pounds, the bikes are 11 pounds lighter than industry standards for bikes of its size.
The Santa Monica Daily Press has noted that the quickly growing company has faced delays in implementing bike share on schedule, a problem that has plagued other companies as well, including current industry leader, Portland-based Alta, which runs systems like Citibike in New York and has seen several problems since the program rolled out. CycleHop’s mid-size approach, however, could keep it out of trouble. Instead of the thousands of bikes that large cities have ordered, CycleHop’s cities have systems of 300 to 500 bikes.
This program isn’t Louisville’s first foray into bike share, either. Humana has operated a bike share system called Freewheelin’ for its employees in Downtown for several years using the B-Cycle operator.
Tuesday’s meeting is being held at the Urban Design Studio (507 South Third Street) from 4:30 to 6:30p.m. According to the city’s press release, the meeting is intended “to talk about the idea, discuss tentatively selected station locations, and make suggestions for locations.”