Officials Present Details For New City Bike Sharing Program

By Sam Charles | Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Scott Kubly of the Chicago Department of Transportation details the city’s plan to integrate a new bike sharing program. Credit: Sam Charles

In the fourth of five public meetings, Chicago Transportation Commissioner Gabe Klein and other members of CDOT shed some light on the city’s planned bike sharing system to more than three dozen citizens at the Lincoln-Belmont Library, 1659 W. Melrose St.

“We are going to form a dense network that can then be gradually expanded,” Klein said.

The launch for the program is slated for Spring 2013 and a goal of the city is to establish 100 miles of protected bike lanes by 2015.

“This is the first new transit system that the city will see for a long time,” Klein said.

According to information distributed at the presentation, 4,000 rentable bikes at 400 kiosks will be located outside of CTA train stations, Metra stations, employment centers, shopping districts, business districts, schools and other popular destinations across Chicago, with the densest concentration of kiosks located downtown. The stations can be installed either on the street or on the sidewalk.

The proposed borders for the bike sharing system would be Devon Avenue to the north, California Avenue to the west and 63rd Street to the south. An interactive map of already suggested bike sharing kiosk locations where residents may submit their own  suggestions can be see on the Chicago Department of Transportation’s website.

According to Grid Chicago, last month CDOT said it has already identified approximately 150 kiosk locations, but those locations do not appear on the interactive map.

“We will submit [suggested locations] to each alderman and have the alderman vet them through the community, or even have a public meeting.” said Ben Gomberg, coordinator of the Bike Chicago Program.

There are more than 20 proposed bike kiosk locations within Roscoe View Journal’s coverage area.

A yearly membership for the program will cost $75 and a daily pass will cost $7, with the first 30 minutes free.

A smaller bike renting system launched in Chicago in 2010, “Chicago B-Cycle,” which features five bike rental kiosks along the lakefront, between the Museum Campus and Oak Street Beach. The five kiosks, which are closed for the winter, hold a total of 70 bikes collectively.

Klein did not know whether or not Chicago B-Cycle plans to keep its bike sharing program in place.

The new, public system would be available 24-hours a day, year round, according to Scott Kubly, managing Deputy Commissioner of  Transportation. Kubly added that the city is fronting 20 percent of the initial operating cost, while the remaining 80 percent is covered by a grant from the federal government. Once initial costs are covered, a private company will absorb responsibility, Kubly said.

“It’s city-owned and privately operated,” Kubly said. “Ultimately, the city retains control of where these stations go.”

Kubly added that the city will also decide how much patrons can be charged for rentals.

The contractor selected to manufacture and oversee the bike sharing system was Alta Bicycle Share, based in Portland, Ore. According to the City of Chicago’s website, the contract awarded to Alta was for $65 million over years. However, reports of favoritism and disingenuous bidding have surfaced since the contract was awarded last Spring.

The city is also offering different groups the chance to purchase individual kiosks for $56,000 each, with discounts if more than one are purchased. Each kiosk would feature 11 bikes for rent with 19 stalls to return already rented bikes.

47th Ward Alderman Ameya Pawar announced at the meeting that he has already purchased five kiosks with aldermanic menu money.

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  • http://www.stevevance.net/ Steven Vance

    B-Cycle opened in 2010. The map you linked to only shows station locations suggested by citizens, not by the City of Chicago. The Chicago Bicycle Program announced in September that it had already determined about ~150 locations none of which are shown on the map.

    Was there mention of how people without bank cards would be able to become a member?

    There is one more meeting:
    Wednesday, November 7
    6:30 p.m. ? 8:00 p.m.
    Charles Hayes Center
    4859 S. Wabash Avenue

    • Sam Charles

      Thank you for the feedback, Steven. Ben Gomberg didn’t mention the ~150 kiosks number last night and I’ve been trying to get in touch with CDOT to confirm it, but so far I haven’t heard back from them. I did include a link to the Grid Chicago story that references it, though.

      • http://www.stevevance.net/ Steven Vance

        Thanks for linking to us.

        BTW, here’s a link to the B-Cycle launch: http://chicagoist.com/2010/07/30/chicago_b-cycle_launches_in_the_loo.php

        There are two questions about B-Cycle I’ve heard again and again:
        1. Are they going to remain in operation? This doesn’t stop them from operating or expanding.
        2. Is the “Chicago Bike Sharing” program (no brand name yet) the same as B-Cycle? Nope.

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