Bike sharing programs have been growing in popularity as alternative transportation and have become very popular in major cities across the U.S. Bike share programs offered the community alternative, inexpensive, short distance transportation. Within the past year the City of Pittsburgh, PA has recently launched its bike share program, Healthy Ride, run by Pittsburgh Bike Share. This program has 50 station and 500 bikes across the city. In a smaller, rural community a system of this size would be unsustainable, so what are the alternatives?
Last September, in Harrisburg, PA, Harrisburg Downtown Improvement District in cooperation with BikeShareHbg launched their Downtown Bike Library, operated out of their visitor information center. Guests have the opportunity to borrow a bicycle, helmet, and lock for free for short term to explore the city simply by showing a driver’s license. The program is being launch as a pilot to of the BikeShareHbg initiative to bring a bike sharing program to Harrisburg. Bicycles for the program were donated by Recycle Bicycle, a local organization that fixes abandoned or donated bicycles and returns them back to the community or overseas. This is a great inexpensive way to begin a bike sharing program.
Bike sharing programs are expensive for communities to set up. Looking at the example in Harrisburg, there are alternatives to creating a large bike share system. These can be hosted out of a visitor center or library in your community. Check with local police stations for abandoned bikes that can be used for your bike share program or check with organization such as Recycle Bicycle, in your region for donations. Another alternative is directing users towards Spinlister, a global bike share program online. This program allows people to rent out their personal bikes. The availability of bikes is based on listings in the community. Currently this program is more popular around major cities.
Another opportunity would be local colleges. Currently in Titusville, PA, University of Pittsburgh – Titusville is beginning a bike share program for students on campus.
Creating a bike sharing program in any community can be daunting. Looking at what other communities have done, be creative and create your own style bike share that fits your town!