Tour de Rhode Island

By PHOENIX STAFF  |  May 28, 2014

Is Providence getting a bike share? _by Philip Eil

 0530_Bike_sssssShare_top.jpg

Bikesharingworld.com offers a hypnotic interactive Google map listing known or planned bike-sharing programs around the world, from Aachen, Germany to Zhuzhou, China. When visitors log on, they find cities where a bike share program is already underway — Denver, Rio de Janeiro, Paris, Moscow, Tel Aviv, Singapore, and scores of others — indicated by a green icon of a little man riding a bike. Cities where programs have been proposed, meanwhile, have a blue question mark hovering over them. Such is the case with Providence, Rhode Island, where a click on the question mark brings up the message: “Agreement in December 2013 for 200 bikes in 20 locations to start.”

When we sent over an inquiry to Providence Director of Sustainability/Acting Director of Policy Sheila Dormody for confirmation, here’s what she told us:

“Through a competitive bid process the City of Providence has chosen [Portland, Oregon-based] Alta Bicycle Share to manage the Providence bike share program. Alta has successfully installed and managed bike-sharing schemes in more than 10 cities around America. The proposal is cost-neutral to the city with Alta responsible for identifying sponsors of the program and membership and users fees to create a long-term, financially-sustainable system.

“The first phase will be 20 stations and 200 bikes, largely concentrated downtown and on College Hill,” she continued. “There are also plans for expansion to other neighborhoods if the first phase is successful. . . The program details are still in development, but the plan is to confirm installation details and financing plans in Fall 2014 with the current target of commencing construction of bike stations in Spring 2015.”

While Dormody listed a few reasons why a bike-share’s arrival in Providence is significant (“publicly accessible bikes will provide a healthy and convenient transportation option to our residents, commuters, students, and visitors,” “bike sharing will help us become a more bicycle-friendly city and will attract and retain creative young professionals”), we also reached out to the curator of bikesharingworld.com, Russell Meddin for added perspective. (Meddin happens to be the founder of Bike Share Philadelphia.)

Bike shares are an “inexpensive, maintenance-free form of public transportation that uses a 19th-century vehicle coupled with 21st-century technology that allows personal mobility to get from point A to point B,” he tells us. “It will afford the users of the system a healthy way to commute, run errands, or just [get] around without having to worry about parking or traffic or having to pay for fuel!”

Consider us excited.

POSTSCRIPT: Dormody tells us that Alta is working with the Providence-based ad firm NAIL to help nail down (pun intended) a sponsor for Providence’s bike share by conducting a bidding process scheduled for June. “This will be the most prominent naming rights and sponsorship opportunity to come to Providence in many years,” she says. “Any interested parties should contact Jeremy Crisp at NAIL Communications — jcrisp@nail.cc or 401.331.6245."

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