Philadelphia’s bike-share program will move a bit closer to reality this week with the release of a full list of proposed bike-share stations.
City officials say the list will come out in the next few days. A preliminary version was on display at 30th Street Station Thursday, showing possible stations scattered throughout North, West and South Philadelphia, as well as Center City.
The stations were chosen based on a survey of about 6,000 people. Another batch of stations is expected to follow in 2016.
The goal is to make bike sharing an integral part of the city’s transit portfolio, said Deputy Mayor Rina Cutler. A major focus is on helping commuters on the “last mile” of their journey. Drivers and transit riders who find themselves a mile or two from their destination once they’ve left their car or train can use a bike to quickly and affordably close the gap, she said.
For Jeremy Wakeman, an Amtrak employee who commutes every day to 30th Street Station, a bike could turn a long walk into a short trip.
“It would actually give me a lot more lunch options, which would be nice,” Wakeman said as he looked over the bike share map Thursday. “There are some places down toward City Hall that I don’t go to because it takes too long to get there and back in a lunch hour. But with a bike, I’d at least have a shot.”
Many of the financial details of the system have yet to be worked out, but Cutler said the goal is to make it as accessible and affordable as public transit.
“We will, in fact, launch the first bikes-share program in the country that will not need a credit card,” she said. “That’s never been done before.” (Users will still have to register to get a membership, she added.)
“We’re also having some preliminary conversations with SEPTA about integrating our system in with their transit card, and that’s never been done either,” she said. “We’re really trying to look at this holistically, which the earlier systems really haven’t had the opportunity to do.”.
Among the pieces yet to fall in place is a major corporate sponsor, but officials say they’re still looking for the right partner.
One thing’s certain: If bike sharing proves successful, it will push the culture change under way on Philadelphia’s streets further still. According to the Bicycle Coalition of Philadelphia, the number of cyclists in the city has increased by 260 percent since 2005. That’s meant plenty of adjustments for drivers, and bike share will mean still more.
Acknowledging that it won’t always be easy, Cutler said she hopes the final outcome will be safer streets for everyone.
“There’s lots of statistics that show the more bicycles on the street, the safer everyone is,” she said. “You have a tendency as a driver to slow down. I think everybody has a responsibility here to try to manage the safety aspect, look out for each other, and learn to share the road.
“Is that a culture change? You bet.”