Staff Editorial

Bike-share program has plenty of potential

New public bicycles are seen at the Coralville Transit Intermodal Facility in Coralville on Monday, June 11, 2018. Three new bicycles will be available to rent by anyone with a smart phone for three dollars per hour as part of the city's new bike share program. (Rebecca F. Miller/The Gazette)
New public bicycles are seen at the Coralville Transit Intermodal Facility in Coralville on Monday, June 11, 2018. Three new bicycles will be available to rent by anyone with a smart phone for three dollars per hour as part of the city's new bike share program. (Rebecca F. Miller/The Gazette)

Cedar Rapids city leaders are pursuing a bike-share program that would allow residents and visitors to borrow bikes, for a small fee, from hubs stationed around the city. It’s a transportation option that’s become common in cities throughout the country, including Des Moines.

We think it’s a good idea with a lot of potential, especially because the city also is seeking sponsors to pay for bike-share’s estimated $570,000 price tag. Benefactors could range from a $200,000 title sponsor to a small business sponsoring a $200 bike, Community Development Director Jennifer Pratt told the City Council this week.

While it seeks sponsors, the city will be taking bids from firms to provide bike-share equipment and operate the system. If all goes according to plan, bikes could be available for sharing by next spring.

The benefits are both practical and recreational. Borrowed bikes can provide a “last mile” option for residents using the city’s transit system, helping them get from bus stops to their destination. For residents living in an increasing number of downtown housing developments, bike-share can become a commuting option. And, of course, residents and visitors can use the shared bikes to explore the city and its trails.

Pratt said the city is planning 20 bike hubs, from Cedar Lake on the north to the MedQuarter, downtown, New Bohemia, Czech Village and Kingston Village. Officials plan to reevaluate the program after two years with an eye on possible expansion. Riders can pay by the hour or buy longer-term passes. Prices have yet to be set.

Council member Scott Olson encouraged the city to consider the possibility of cooperating with local businesses already offering bike sharing to employees. That’s a good idea. We’d also like to see the city consider the regional possibilities of creating a system that works with other corridor communities, including a planned system in Iowa City. Maybe a Cedar Rapids pass holder could borrow an Iowa City bike, and vice-versa.

Again, there’s a lot of potential. We share the city’s enthusiasm for the program.

• Comments: (319) 398-8262; editorial@thegazette.com

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