By Steve Tawa

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Leading bicycle-sharing vendors looking to land a city contract brought their gear to Rittenhouse Square today to demonstrate to city officials and passersby how their “bike share” systems work.

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The city intends to roll out a program next year in which customers will be able to help  themselves to a sturdy bike for a short time, paying at the self-service docking stations by the day or through an annual membership.

As the city fine-tunes its business plan for the program, it contemplates upwards of 1,000 bikes and up to 150 docking stations that would be located in center city, west to the Penn campus in University City, and north to the Temple campus.

“It’s essentially car share for bikes,” noted Aaron, who happened by.  He says he knows many people who will want to rent bikes.

(Mayor Nutter tries out one of the sample bike-share vehicles near Rittenhouse Square.  Credit: Steve Tawa)

(Mayor Nutter tries out one of the sample bike-share vehicles near Rittenhouse Square. Credit: Steve Tawa)


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“It’s worth it because I would have full access to a bike at all times, at multiple locations,” Aaron said. “I don’t have to maintain it, I don’t have to store it.”

Katie Monroe, an intern with the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia, has a bicycle in her apartment.  But what about if she gets company?

“I won’t have to convert to being a Septa user, walker, or driver whenever I have someone visiting me who wants to travel (with me by bike) around the city,” she explained.

The idea, city officials say, is to have about 20-25 stations per square mile.

The bikes are typically beefy, 40-pound, three-speed models.  Customers unlock a bicycle with a credit or smart card after paying a fee, and then ride away.  The bike can be returned at a station near their destination.

Another passerby, Garrett, thought bike share would be useful as part of a larger trip involving mass transit but “having that last-mile problem,” as he put it.   “Sometimes you get off the train, and to get to your destination from the transit stop, there may be no good way to do it.”

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