By Steve Tawa
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — While Philadelphia is joining the ‘Bike Share’ party later than some other big cities, it’s jumping to the front of the class in helping low-income residents to benefit from the two-wheel transportation option.
A bill authorizing the delivery of a bicycle sharing system has moved favorably out of committee to the full Council for a spring of 2015 launch with 60-stations and 600-bikes.
They’ll be located from the Navy Yard north to Temple University and from the Delaware River to 52nd Street.
Users pick up a bike at their closest station and leave it at another, near their destination.
Bike Share Founder Russell Meddin says when Philadelphia began looking into the idea in 2008, only one small program existed in the US, in Tulsa.
Now, more than 50-US cities operate bike share systems, and dozens more are either constructing or planning systems:
‘The bicycles are used to get from point a to point b, or for recreation or exercise. It’s considered public transportation that gives personal mobility.’
Andrew Stober of the Mayor’s Office of Transportation and Utilities says the city joins Washington, Boston, Chicago, London and a growing number of other global cities providing what he calls ‘a new form of public transportation, one that runs on the customer’s schedule.’
Stober says the city has just received a $3-million grant from a foundation to fund bike share efforts, a third of which will go toward deploying 20-stations in low-income census tracts.
The foundation will also fund a reserve and run a program to back-stop bike share accounts for low-income folks:
‘We’re going to be the first system in the country to allow residents without credit cards to be able to access the system.’
Alex Doty is the Executive Director of the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia:
‘This is part of the DNA of bike share from the very beginning.’
The city is putting up $3-million in Capital Funds to go toward installing the system.
After the 2015 launch, the plan is to grow the system to 200 stations and 2000 bikes within two years.