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A Bike Sharing Program is Coming to Louisville

Bike sharing program available at Humana.
Bike sharing program available at Humana.

The wheels are in motion for bringing a bike share program to Louisville.

Under a proposed plan, about 300 bicycles would be available for public use at 30 stations in downtown and Old Louisville by mid- to late summer 2015, said Rolf Eisinger, bicycle and pedestrian coordinator for Louisville.

Bike sharing programs have been sprouting up around the nation. More than 50 programs operate in the United States, according to the Pedestrian and Bicycle Information Center at the University of North Carolina Highway Safety Research Center.

"It's catching on like crazy around the country," Eisinger said.

In Louisville, bike sharing has been limited to Humana employees.

Eisinger said a "pretty promising number" of Humana employees using the current leads him to believe that a city-wide system would be used.

The concept of bike share is simple, he added.

A bike can be checked out from one station for an allotted amount of time and price, then returned to another station.  He said each bike is fitted with GPS systems that allow systems operators to monitor where riders go and where stations may best serve the public.

The city-wide program would be funded with about $1 million from a federal grant and $250,000 coming from city government.

The exact cost of the system—including kiosks, bicycles and maintenance—is still being determined, Eisinger said.

Bids for contracts have not yet been sent out to service providers, Eisinger said.  Once they are sent out and returned, finer details regarding associated costs and fees for use will be defined.

Florida based company, CycleHop, will assist with operations during the first two years, but Eisinger said "operations is different than the bike and station manufacturer."

The program will be available to everyone, though it will have a minimum age requirement for liability reasons, Eisinger said. Bike sharing will be available year round, but will be unavailable at early morning hours—like between midnight at 5 a.m., for instance.

Stations will be placed in areas with "the most concentrated areas of where people live and work," Eisinger said.  Currently, the city has no plans for bike share stations to be placed anywhere west of Ninth Street in downtown Louisville.

"As the system develops there will be opportunities to grow to other places," Eisinger said.

The price for a bike share is projected to be at $3 for a single use of 30 minutes or less or $7 for unlimited trips totally no more than 60 minutes in a 24-hour period, according city officials.

Residents who wish to use the system will do so with a credit or debit card or by stopping by an operator office for a one-time use voucher or annual pass—meaning people without a credit card can still access the system.

So, why bike share?

"It really helps provide that last mile of transportation," Eisinger said.  "Maybe you take that TARC and it gets you so close to your destination, but you need to get a little further, so now you hop on a bike and access that destination."

Bike sharing can allow people to explore the city in a "healthier way and get some exercise."

Indianapolisintroduced a bike share program earlier this year and has experienced resounding success, said Lauren Day, program manager for Indianapolis Cultural Trail Inc.

She said Indianapolis bike share program features 25 stations and since its rollout has tallied about 90,000 trips.

Louisville bike officials will begin collecting public input on where to place stations  at 4:30 p.m.Tuesday at an open meeting at the Urban Design Studio, 507 S. Third Street.

A website will also launch in the coming weeks that will offer residents a chance to have input on the bike share program.

Jacob Ryan is the managing editor of the Kentucky Center for Investigative reporting. He's an award-winning investigative reporter who joined LPM in 2014. Email Jacob at jryan@lpm.org.

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