Government

Bike share could launch in Cedar Rapids in 2019

City Council members set to discuss program Tuesday

New public bicycles are seen at the Coralville Transit Intermodal Facility in Coralville in June. (Rebecca F. Miller/The Gazette)
New public bicycles are seen at the Coralville Transit Intermodal Facility in Coralville in June. (Rebecca F. Miller/The Gazette)

CEDAR RAPIDS — A bike share may be coming to Cedar Rapids as soon as next spring.

The city is seeking a vendor to provide an estimated $570,000 worth of equipment, which would include bikes, stations, kiosks and signs. Separately, the city is seeking another vendor to operate the system, which envisions offering 200 bikes with 20 pickup and drop-off locations.

“It adds another amenity to downtown and makes it more dynamic,” said Bill Micheel, assistant community development director.

Hotel visitors, college students and people eating at restaurants or attending downtown events could use the bikes to expand their options and get to destinations more quickly.

“It provides another option for covering what urban planners call the last mile,” Micheel said. “Say people show up at the (Ground Transportation Center) and they have a destination downtown, they can hop on a bike. They can cover the last mile distance faster than walking.”

A public hearing and vote are scheduled for the equipment scope of the project during a City Council meeting at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday at City Hall, 101 First St. SE. Bidding would open Oct. 3 and a contract awarded Oct. 23.

For the operation portion, a contract is expected to be awarded in November. The operator would be responsible for bike maintenance, customer service, data tracking, phone app issues and other aspects, according to the request.

Check out would entail using a credit card at a kiosk or an online app. Bike stations would be placed in the downtown core, in Czech Village, Kingston Village, the Coe-MedQuarter area, the New Bohemia District and “places in between,” Micheel said. The goal is to have a bike station every quarter-mile, he said.

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“One of the key factors for success is to have enough bikes and enough locations to make the system attractive to users,” he said.

The bikes would be equipped with GPS, front and rear lights and reflectors, a basket for carrying up to 20 pounds, a bell, a one-size-fits-most frame, three-speed gearing and a locking system, among other features, according to the request.

The city would look at expanding the program after three years, Micheel said.

Iowa City and the University of Iowa have been planning to launch a joint bike share since at least January 2015 and secured $175,000 in state, federal and private grants — the majority of the proposed cost — but the program has yet to begin operating.

The Iowa Bicycle Coalition launched a small-scale dockless bike share in June in the Iowa River Landing District of Coralville, but recall issues have caused the bikes to be offline since August, said Mark Wyatt, executive director of the coalition.

l Comments: (319) 398-8310; brian.morelli@thegazette.com

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