Council Approves Funds for Bike Share Program

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Thursday June 28, 2018

As you traverse past Healthy Living on Dorset Street or make your way into downtown Burlington, some bright green bike racks may have caught your eye. The bikes, festooned with the names of major sponsors such as Seventh Generation and Ben and Jerry’s are part of the Green Ride Bikeshare program, now in its second month. Similar programs have been in place in major cities and internationally for years, and now South Burlington is taking part in a similar initiative.

At the June 18 council meeting, South Burlington Director of Public Works Justin Rabidoux and Director of Planning and Zoning Paul Conner gave a presentation on the Bikeshare program including an overview, associated costs, and progress made thus far. Two years ago, the Chittenden Country Regional Planning Commission (CCRPC), the University of Vermont, and Champlain College began looking into bike sharing systems with a three-tiered, phased implementation. After bids were received from five vendors, Green Ride was chosen as the provider that most aligned with the values South Burlington, Burlington, and Winooski are working to promote in terms of providing more transportation alternatives for people and decreasing vehicle dependency. Green Ride has a local manager who oversees the bikes and contracts with Old Spokes Home in Burlington to maintain them.

The program in its current phase has 17 locations spread throughout the three cities. South Burlington is host to three locations, two on Dorset Street and the third at the Burlington International Airport. Individuals who want to use a bike can purchase credits through the app or pre-load a card at local vendors, then type their four digit code into a bike and be on their way. The cost is $2 for a 30 minute trip, $15 per month for 60 minutes per day, or $50 annually for the same duration. When an individual is finished with their trip, they simply return the bike to one of the “hubs” or bike racks. Each bike is embedded with a GPS tracker, so it can determine where the rider is going. This helps in terms of data collection to determine the most used routes and where future deployments of bikes would be best suited.

Each participating municipality is paying into the program and Conner and Rabidoux requested council instruct staff to implement $10,000 for future locations. These funds would cover year one of the program and overlap into year two. Rabidoux assumed, based on the number of hubs in the other cities, that Winooski would likely pay in around $5,000 and Burlington potentially would contribute $30,000 to $50,000. Conner explained though, that the longer the program is in place, the more likely it is that the sponsorships will increase which could drive down costs to municipalities. Councilor David Kaufman wondered however, if the program would take revenue or business away from local bike shops such as SkiRack and Local Motion which rent bikes during the summer months. Conner explained that they have been partners throughout the process and have been supportive. According to Conner, their stance is that “building a community that values cycling is important.”

So, what does the two month data show? The most utilized route at the moment is travel to and from the Burlington waterfront. Over two months, there were 1,166 members and 2,918 trips, which resulted in the reduction in C02 of 5,390 pounds.

After discussion, the council unanimously approved both the Phase one funding and a grant submittal of $48,000 by the Chittenden County Regional Planning Commission which will list South Burlington as a host city to help launch phase two. More data specific to South Burlington will become available as the program continues and as Councilor Kaufman said, “nothing ventured, nothing gained.”

You can learn more about Green Ride Bikeshare at: https://catmavt.org/bikeshare

 

SOURCE: Corey Burdick, Correspondent