BikeShare program great city addition

Three years ago, Columbus earned the distinction of being one of 214 Bike Friendly Communities in the nation. With 25 miles of paved People Trails in the city and some bicycling events during the year, residents have ample opportunity to ride.

Columbus will become even more bike friendly with its new BikeShare program.

It will feature 72 bicycles that can be rented from among seven kiosks around the city, and is set to begin in mid-May. The premise is simple: People rent bicycles from a bike kiosk, use them for their needs and return them to any bike kiosk in the city. A fee structure provides several options for cost and length of rental.

The program is a great addition for the city, and a quality-of-life amenity with a variety of benefits:

Enables the Columbus Area Visitors Center to offer bike tours of the city. That would be an additional way for residents and tourists to see the city’s art, architecture and other points of interest, and an additional way to create revenue.

Provide a healthy lifestyles option. For example, people could rent the bikes on their lunch breaks to get a bit of exercise.

Allow residents to commute to work or even to appointments during the work day.

A bike-share program also fits with the city’s long-term bike and pedestrian plan, and is an amenity that should appeal to the professionals and families that the city would like to attract and retain.

Another benefit is that the city’s BikeShare program is paid for without any taxpayer money. The startup cost of $288,000 — which covers docking stations with bikes, maps and a credit card reader for payment — was paid for through a combination of donations from Columbus Regional Hospital and an anonymous donor.

The Columbus Park Foundation began discussing the possibility of creating a bike-sharing program last fall, and created a committee to explore the idea. Through the efforts of the foundation, volunteers and donor, the idea has come to fruition and will make the city more appealing to visitors and potential residents.