When does Springfield Bike Share plan to launch and where?
We are negotiating a contract with the vendor that will be used, Gotcha Bike. We were hoping for July, but it is looking more likely it’ll be August. We’ll have six stations in the downtown Springfield area. They range across the downtown Park Central Area as far east as near John Q. Hammons and St. Louis and as far west as the transit center. We’ll also be plugging into a few stations that will be on the main campus of Missouri State University.
How does the bike share work, and who do you expect to be your primary customers?
(It’s) membership-based and station-based programs. When they decide to use the program, the user will purchase a membership that gives them more or less unlimited use of the bikes. You would just walk up to the station, use your smartphone to check out a bike and then take the bike and go. As far as our demographics go, there is a high degree of bike share ridership that is not just tourists. We see a lot of potential usage for folks who live and/or work in the downtown area. We think that students will use this quite a bit. Some estimate numbers we’re looking at is $7 for a day pass, and I believe the yearlong pass is less than $100.
City leaders and nonprofit groups are partnering to increase walkability and bikeability of the city. How friendly is our city to people traveling without a car?
Overall, I do find Springfield to be fairly bike-friendly. I largely use a bike as my primary mode of transportation to get around town. With that said, there’s sort of an interplay between bikeability and the number of bikes that are on the road. Increasing the number of bikes on our city streets increases demand for that level of infrastructure and just helps normalize bikes being on the road.
As people are thinking more about their own impact on the environment, are alternate means of transportation necessary for sustainability?
There’s a general rule that’s often referred to as the 2-mile rule. If your destination is less than 2 miles away, you should use some sort of mode of active transportation like walking or riding a bike. There is a great opportunity for bike share to displace some of those personal vehicle trips with a non-(carbon dioxide) emitting, eco-friendly and active transportation option. The bike share isn’t a silver bullet, but the hope is that it gets more people on bicycles.
Is there a long-term goal to expand the bike share outside of downtown?
Absolutely. We are largely looking at the downtown Park Central area as what you might consider a pilot program. We look at these first six stations as a way to get the program off the ground and validated as a feasible option for the Springfield community. We see great opportunity to expand this and really make it a much more usable program within the next couple of years, potentially doubling or even tripling the size of our initial pilot program.
Where does your funding come from?
The initial launch of our program will be coming exclusively through corporate sponsorships. Those corporate sponsors are BKD, Anthem Blue Cross, City Utilities, U.S. Bank and Positronic. After launch, membership revenues, which will flow to Gotcha Bike, will help sustain the program and potentially the expansion of the program could be bolstered by other sources of funding, for example, grant funding. The investment right now is about $6,000 per station.
Cody Stringer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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