BY PAUL BICKLEY
In 2014, the League of American Bicyclists named the City of Bloomington a gold-level Bicycle Friendly Community. Now, a joint bike-share project between the City of Bloomington and Indiana University, scheduled to launch in March or April, will make Bloomington even more bicycle-friendly.
Initially, 150 bicycles will be available to residents and visitors on a pay-per-use basis, according to Beth Rosenbarger, the City’s pedestrian and bicycle coordinator, and Kevin Whited, IU’s transportation demand management coordinator and bicycle manager. Rosenbarger and Whited, who have been discussing the idea of a joint bike-share program since October 2016, say that number could eventually grow to 700–800 bikes, or about one bike per 100 residents.
“Bike shares are an emerging business, with lots of learning going on right now,” Rosenbarger says. “We’ll have phase-ins and see how things go.”
Rosenbarger says the program will use existing bike pathways, focusing on city-campus overlap areas (an as-yet undefined downtown sector and areas adjacent to campus) as well as the B-Line Trail.
“These bicycles will improve the connectivity of the area without adding to traffic congestion,” Whited says.
In November, the City and IU issued a request for proposals to 17 potential vendors. The winning vendor will provide bikes, collect and return them to high-demand areas, and provide bicycle maintenance at local bike shops. It will operate under City and campus regulations.
The bikes will be high-sitting, step-through models called Dutch-style or town bikes, all the same yet-to-be-determined color. The bikes will have seven speeds for negotiating Bloomington’s hills, GPS tracking, and include lights, a bell, and a basket.
Users will request bikes via smartphone apps, be directed to the closest available bike station, and scan bar codes to unlock them. The cost will be about 50 cents per 15 minutes. Payment methods and other details will be determined by the City, IU, and the winning vendor.
“Bike-Share will be great for the environment, great for city streets, and great for community health,” Rosenbarger says.
In November, the League of American Bicyclists named IU a silver-level Bicycle Friendly University. “I’m pretty sure Bike Share will help us get to gold,” Whited says.
For more information, visit bloomington.in.gov/bikeshareproject.