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First step in bike share program OK’d by local officials

A regional bicycle share program is one step closer to reality after local officials agreed to spend $30,000 on a feasibility study that will conclude in June or July.

Public bicycle share programs are popular in cities such as Montreal, Paris, Denver and Washington, D.C., where riders pay a minimal fee to borrow a bicycle parked at one of numerous kiosks.

A similar program was floated in Sacramento last year by the Midtown Business Association, which determined that it could not support the program.

"It’s evident it’s time for us to be thinking about this seriously in Sacramento," said Larry Greene, executive director of the Sacramento Metropolitan Air Quality Management District, which will foot $20,000 of the bill for the study.

An additional $10,000 comes from Amtrak as part of the Capitol Corridor Joint Powers Authority.

The program is popular in other cities, where bicycle rental is often free for the first 30 minutes, and riders can make short trips with no cost, dropping the bicycles off at any available kiosk spot.

Last year’s MBA program – called Ride Your Own Way – was a six-month pilot that included 12 bicycles divided among two kiosks, one at 16th and I streets and the other at 28th and J streets.

Vandalism and theft plagued the program for its duration, and riders had to return bicycles to the kiosk at which they were rented. 

The new study, agreed to Thursday morning, will look at the possibility of running a regional bicycle-sharing program.

“It would be wonderful if we had a bike-share program where somebody could be a member here in Sacramento and get off the Capitol Corridor in Davis or go to the Bay Area and use the same system,” Greene said. “They’d use their key there and ride."

Adrian Moore, owner of Ikon Cycles, 2318 J St., purchased the bicycles for the MBA experiment, and he previously told The Sacramento Press that any successful bicycle-sharing program would likely need government funding, as the infrastructure represents a significant up-front cost.

“It’s great that they’re doing that, because it’s probably exactly what it needs,” he said Thursday. “That kind of infrastructure will be hard to do by a program that doesn’t really make any profit.”

He added that a bicycle-sharing program has the potential to break even or make a small profit.

Initiating a bicycle-sharing program requires an early outlay of a significant number of bicycles, and a staff report cited Denver’s bicycle-sharing program, which launched with 400 bicycles and averages more than four rental stations per square mile.

The programs have been touted as beneficial to communities with regard to air quality, alternative transportation and general health and fitness.

Moore said he is looking forward to the study and hopes it becomes a reality in the region.

“They should do it, they should do it well and they should put enough into it to get it off the ground and be a model for other cities,” he said. “I think it’s a good way to go, and if they do their homework, they should have a relatively easy time getting it off the ground if they get the investment capital for it.” 

Sacramento Press Editor-in-Chief Jared Goyette contributed to this report.

Proposal to study the possibility of implementing a bike share program

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