Bike sharing process underway

Less than a month after the City announced it would officially bring bike sharing to Philadelphia, the process is already well underway.

With a 2014 deadline from Mayor Nutter, the Mayor’s Office of Transportation and Utilities (MOTU), Pennsylvania Environmental Council (PEC) and the Bike Coalition of Greater Philadelphia (BCGP) announced a January 14 deadline for business model proposals. On January 22, the three groups will interview the shortlisted firms.

More than 20 cities across the country already offering bike sharing. While that might offer Philadelphia the advantage of learning from others’ mistakes, MOTU Chief of Staff Andrew Stober encouraged the proposal candidates to think outside the box.

“Philly certainly isn’t the first city to have bike sharing, but maybe we can be the first city to have a new model,” he said.

Spencer Finch, PEC director of sustainable infrastructure, said in particular the proposal review team will be looking for new and creative revenue streams. At the pre-proposal meeting he urged the teams to consider media partnerships, bike station sponsorships and investments from pension funds, as well as any other ideas they might come up with.

The City has committed $3 million over two years to get bike share up and running, and will seek an additional $5 to $6 million in federal, state and private sector funding.

This initial phase of the process – developing the business model – will cost between $15,000 and $30,000, and the estimated fee in each business model proposal will be factored into the final decision of which firm to go with.

Five and 10-year cost and revenue projections and ways to make the bike sharing as inclusive as possible will also be considered, Finch said.

Inclusion has been questioned since the bike sharing will likely require a credit or debit card, which all potential users may not have.

The bike-sharing network will also be concentrated in Center City, University City and the Temple University area.

Ultimately Philadelphia hopes to have 1,000 to 2,000 bikes and 100 to 120 stations.

This is comparable to bike sharing programs in other cities (Capital Bikeshare in Washington D.C. has 1,670 bikes, Hubway Bikes in the Greater Boston area has 1,003 and DecoBike Miami Beach has 1,000), but in Philadelphia, where there are four times as many bike commuters as New York and two times as many as Chicago, some have already asked if this is enough.

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