City pedaling forward on bike sharing initiative

The Columbus Park Foundation is inviting the community to suggest names for the city’s new BikeShare initiative and to choose the color scheme for the program’s new Trek bikes.

Those who visit The Commons between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. Monday can see examples of the BCycle’s bike sharing bikes and learn more about the program, which could begin in Columbus as early as next spring.

The foundation hopes the community will provide suggestions about the name for the program, one that could reflect the Columbus city brand.

The BikeShare program in Columbus will allow residents to rent the bicycles from kiosks at seven stations around Columbus and return them to any kiosk in the city.

The foundation is preparing to purchase 67 of the Trek bikes, which will be distributed among the stations concentrated around downtown Columbus, Donner Center, Columbus Regional Hospital and the city’s Visitor’s Center, said April Williams, foundation project and resource development director.

By tracking the bike’s usage, the foundation will be able to determine if other locations need to be added as stations in the future, she said.

The foundation proposed the idea for a bike sharing program in February at the foundation’s annual community meetings. In April and May, the foundation conducted open houses and online surveys to gauge interest and found strong community support for the idea, Williams said.

The foundation is partnering with the Columbus Visitors Center to create tours by bike with themes that include the city’s architecture, outdoor art and Columbus history, said Dave Hayward, foundation board president.

The bike sharing program helps Columbus meet the goals of being healthier and more environmentally friendly, he said.

One of the ideas is to have a bike tour tied to the People Trails, with interpretive elements about the city’s highlights, Williams said.

The cost to rent the bikes is still being formulated, although the foundation is researching other city’s methods to determine the best option.

Most cities have a structure that allows participants to choose from an annual fee, a monthly fee or an hourly or daily fee to rent the bikes, Williams said.

Bike sharing programs are usually funded by membership fees, user fees, sponsorship or grants.

For example, in Indianapolis, the annual fee is $80, or an individual may purchase an $8 day pass to use the bike, Williams said. In Indianapolis, the Pacers Bike Share program allows for advertising on the stations and bikes.

Williams said the bikes will be user-friendly for those who decide to give the bike sharing program a try, with decals and instructions on the kiosk and also on the bikes.

The foundation hopes to have the bicycles purchased by the end of the year and to launch the stations possibly as early as May.

If you go

What: Community information open house about the city’s new BikeShare program

When: 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Monday

Where: The Commons, 300 Washington St., Columbus

What’s happening: Community residents may view the BCycle bike sharing bicycles made by Trek and vote from two options, gray or white, for the color of bikes to be used in Columbus. Residents may also suggest a program name for the BikeShare initiative.

Give feedback online

Can’t make it to Monday’s BikeShare event at The Commons?

The Columbus Park Foundation is accepting votes on the bike color and suggestions on a program name online on the foundation’s website, its Facebook page or Instagram account.

To weigh in on the Web, visit:

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Julie McClure is assistant managing editor of The Republic. She can be reached at jmcclure@therepublic.com or (812) 379-5631.