Courtesy of MCT
Downtown Columbus plans to continue its bike-friendly effort this summer with the introduction of BikeShare – a multi-million dollar transit system that will implement 30 stations downtown with more than 300 bikes available for rent.
BikeShare is a system where bikes are kept at kiosks and people can use them to travel around town from station to station, said Brad Westall of the Columbus Recreation and Parks Department.
“It is a healthful way to run errands or get to meetings, or to leisurely see points of interest downtown,” Westall said.
Columbus has invested almost $2.3 million in the program.
The program costs $5 per day after the first half hour of use. The stations are located about a quarter mile apart and have been planned to start at 3rd Avenue in the Short North, stretching through downtown, Westall said.
“It is going to add a very useful, easy access, low-cost way to get around town,” Westall said. “Yet another way that Columbus is rocking out and becoming a bike-friendly community.”
Bicycle transit systems operate in several U.S. cities including Washington, D.C., and Boston.
Ohio State has expressed interest in this program, but no campus bike stations are planned for when the program is expected to premier in July. Westall said BikeShare would be an easy way for students to explore the Short North and downtown.
“We really hope that Ohio State comes to bat and gets a few stations in the campus area,” Westall said.
OSU Adminstration and Planning spokeswoman Lindsay Komlanc said its possible the university will become involved in the project in the future.
“Ohio State University is excited about the upcoming launch of the Columbus bike-sharing program and is very interested in the potential to collaborate with the city as the program moves forward,” Komlanc said in an email.
Komlanc said no formal plans have been established, but meetings with the city are planned for discussions regarding the BikeShare program on campus.
Bike OSU President and graduate student in city and regional planning, Alex Smith, was involved in writing the proposal for the BikeShare program presented to the city.
“It is a good way to get people who normally wouldn’t ride a bike to ride a bike,” Smith said. “I ride my bike everyday – I don’t own a car.”
Smith tested the Washington, D.C., BikeShare system while attending the National Bike Summit earlier this month and said based on the Washington, D.C., system, the BikeShare program in Columbus should be successful.
However, Sara Hernandez, a fourth-year senior in speech and hearing science, said the program could heighten dangerous bike traffic in the campus area.
Hernandez said she hit a biker with her car on campus in the parking lot next to Ohio Stadium because the biker did not have working brakes for his bike.
“I think it would be really beneficial … for areas that are not on campus,” Hernandez said.
The Columbus BikeShare Program is asking for recommendations for possible station locations, which can be submitted at their website or through the Columbus Recreation and Parks Department website. Locations outside of the estimated route will be recorded and considered if the planned BikeShare program is a success.