Thursday, August 17, 2017

Springfield exploring bicycle-sharing program

More residents and visitors to central Illinois cities, including Peoria and Bloomington-Normal, can now rent bicycles as part of bike-share programs.

A coalition of groups in Springfield is looking to make the capital city the next to implement a program where racks with five to 10 bicycles are set up around the city for people to rent on an hourly basis for a fee. They can then return the bike to any other rack.

Those involved in the effort say it’s a push to make the city more bike-friendly and provide another recreational opportunity for both tourists and residents.

“We think it would be a great addition to the tourist infrastructure but also give locals more reasons to come downtown and enjoy the area,” said Downtown Springfield Inc. executive director Lisa Clemmons Stott.

The coalition is meeting with companies that run bike-share programs and researching what has worked well in other cities. One estimate to start a program the group received is around $90,000. 

“What we’re looking at is more turn key,” said Nancy Barrett, an assessment and accreditation coordinator UIS and a member of the bike advisory council. “They come in and give you the bikes, they have the stations, (and) they provide the maintenance, all of that kind of infrastructure.”

Barrett said the University of Illinois Springfield has a popular bike-share program with 20 bikes that students can use for free. She’s looking for ways to expand that transportation option, particularly for international students.

“They’re depending on public transport, walking or biking,” Barrett said. ”We could use more bikes at UIS.”

Once the group has selected a vendor, which could happen as soon as this fall, they’ll begin recruiting local businesses and organizations to chip in, said Clemmons Stott.

This story appeared in The State Journal-Register on August 16, 2017.

Read the entire article online.