The city of Atlanta signed a contract with the private bike-share company CycleHop more than a year ago but bikes still haven’t hit the streets.
At the first public meeting about the bike share program last night, the city’s chief bicycle officer Becky Katz assured people: the rentable bikes are coming.
Katz attributed the delay to complications with the contract and permitting.
“While there has been a delay, I think the delay has been beneficial. We’re now able to have more bike infrastructure than we’ve ever had before when it launches,” Katz said, pointing to new protected bike lane projects at Tech Parkway and Juniper Street.
As for the launch, Katz said the city and CycleHop are rolling out a demo version of the program this summer. That plan is for 100 bikes in intown neighborhoods from Buckhead to West End.
Still, a lot is still up in the air, including where exactly the pick-up stations will be located. In the coming months, Katz and CycleHop hope to figure out those details by asking residents.
“Well the biggest thing is making sure that we don’t just plop down a bike station. For some people they’ve never heard of bike share. They’ve never seen bike share,” said Dan Murphy, CycleHop’s Atlanta general manager.
To reach those people, they’re holding more meetings like the one that took place last night; they’re also visiting neighborhood forums and speaking to residents there; and Katz said they’re putting out a survey with the Atlanta Bicycle Coalition later this month to gather more feedback from Atlantans.
Specifically, they’re really hoping to include minority and low-income communities in the planning process. Katz said they’ve seen in the 45-plus other cities with bike share programs that many struggle to serve people of all socio-economic backgrounds.
CycleHop, a private company that operates in Orlando, Phoenix and other cities, seems to agree that this should be a priority for the Atlanta program. And at the meeting, Murphy announced that they’re looking for a local headquarters in the West End.
“Atlanta is a diverse city and it need a diverse bike share,” said Murphy.
Who uses bike share could depend on how much it costs. While Murphy and Katz said that’s yet to be determined, they do plan to offer some kind of subsidy for low-income bike riders.
Not everyone is as concerned with the details. Many people at last night’s gathering, most with neighborhood groups and bike organizations, just want to see a bike share finally operating in the city.
The Atlanta Bicycle Coalitions’ Keisa Bruce said the rentable bike programs hardly represent a new idea, even in the South.
“Anywhere you travel there’s a bike share,” Bruce said. “I feel like it’s exciting. I don’t have any worries.”
For updates and future meeting times, visit the city’s Bike Share web page. Feedback on permits can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com.