Plans for Bike Share Program Advance in Pittsburgh Council

Mar 27, 2013

Pittsburgh City Council has given preliminary approval to legislation that sets up an account for a bike-share program in the city slated for 2014, although no city funds would be used for the $3 million initiative.

The committee vote Wednesday advanced two bills regarding "Pittsburgh Bike Share" to a full Council vote on Tuesday, where final approval is expected.

The bike share program would install 50 bike corrals at locations across the city, with 500 bikes to start. Users could buy daily or yearly memberships to ride the bikes from one corral to another for quick trips such as grocery shopping or lunches.

The tentative price for a daily pass is about $6; the yearly pass would likely cost $75.

If all goes as planned, the federal government would contribute $1.6 million to the program, said Bike Pittsburgh Executive Director Scott Bricker.

The U.S. Department of Transportation would give the Congestion Mitigation Air Quality grant to a newly-formed Pittsburgh Bike Share nonprofit group due to the program's potential to reduce air pollution by alleviating car traffic.

The other $1.4 million would come from corporations and foundations, Bricker said.

Asked to explain how a 500-bicycle system could cost $3 million, Bricker said the bikes must be high-quality to stand the test of time.

"If you buy a bike from a big box retailer for $300, one: they're not going to be serviceable; two, they'll probably get stolen without a really great locking system and a transaction system," he said.

The $3 million cost also includes the price of corrals, marketing, maintenance and administration, according to city bike/pedestrian coordinator Stephen Patchan. He said the program should be able to pay for itself after its first year and even garner enough money to expand the number of bikes and corrals.