This April, after nearly five years of planning, Philadelphia will become the newest host of a bicycle share program, where pedestrians can rent a bicycle at one of 185 stations, including three in the Temple area, the northernmost in the city.
The three stations in the Temple area will be on 13th Street and Montgomery Avenue, North Broad Street and Cecil B. Moore Avenue and on 13th and Norris streets.
Bike share programs provide bicycles to the public as an alternative form of transportation. Customers pick up a bicycle at one of the stations and use it to reach their destinations, where they then return the bicycle to the closest available station. Other cities where bike share has been successful include Boston, Washington D.C., Chicago and San Francisco.
Bike Temple, a division of the Office of Sustainability that plans bicycle-related events and offers classes on responsible bike use and maintenance, has been working with the city since 2012 to suggest bike share locations around Temple.
Bike Temple Coordinator Blake Larson said the city’s Office of Transportation and Utilities is collaborating with Temple’s Office of Sustainability.
“The project delivery team worked very closely with [them] to view different sites that they thought would be good to have bike share in,” Larson said.
For the areas near Main Campus, Larson said, the ideal locations had high pedestrian traffic, high visibility and nearby connections to other public transportation.
“They were trying to find something that would benefit the Temple community and also benefit the greater North Philadelphia community that Temple’s a part of,” Larson said. “It was a balancing act to see how to best serve both communities.”
Larson added that the new program will help introduce Temple students to other parts of the city.
“Bike share is great for connecting Temple in to the rest of the city,” Larson said. “I think a lot of students here on Temple’s campus never get a chance to go down and experience that in their four years here. … Bike share gives them that opportunity to just hop on their bike and connect with the city on a very basic level.”
“We’ve been advocating for a bike share in Philadelphia for the past eight years,” Russell Meddin, the founder of Bike Share Philadelphia, said.
Meddin’s website updated its visitors on the status of bike share in the city, tracking the program’s process.
The first milestone posted was the publication of the Philadelphia Bikeshare Concept Study in 2010, which gauged the city’s feasibility to host a bike share program. The program was then approved by Mayor Nutter in 2012 and a financial plan was drawn in 2013.
“Starting last year there was a crowd sourcing map for people to put down where they wanted stations,” Meddin said.
He said Bike Share Philadelphia tried to garner as much public feedback as possible.
“We [then] sent requests to businesses and institutions asking if they’d like to host bike share stations,” Meddin said. “The city would look and see [whether] the stations would interrupt the flow of traffic.”
Aaron Ritz, the Bicycle and Pedestrian Programs Planner for the Mayor’s Office of Transportation and Utilities, said the criteria when looking for “hot spots” to install bike stations include visibility and accessibility.
“We want to make sure we’re not negatively affecting other transportation,” Ritz said. “It’s a good way of getting people around without providing more motor vehicles.”
“[Bike share] is about the ability to provide transportation from point to point,” he said. “[It] provides a new infrastructure and a better way of getting around the city.”
Ritz said that the city wanted to focused on neighborhoods and residential areas, including low-income areas.
Bike Share Philadelphia will be the first bike share program that customers can access without a credit card, which makes the program accessible to more people.
The city’s budget provides $3 million for purchasing new infrastructure, which will pay for the stations and the bicycles. Philadelphia also applied for grants to help pay for the program. The equipment will be owned by the city.
Ritz said 75-90 percent of the infrastructure costs will be paid for by the customers. Next month, BSP will announce a corporate sponsor, and customers will be able to sign up for monthly memberships .
“We’re making sure people know bike share is coming and they can ask questions,” Ritz said.
“[Bike share] is going to allow Temple students to continue to connect with Philadelphia, which is really one of the best assets that we have at this university,” Larson said.
Bike Temple, Student Activities and Temple Student Government said they are working to plan ways to promote bike share for the next academic year.
Lian Parson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @Lian_Parsons