NewsPublic Affairs / April 4, 2014

Bikeshare Aims To Offer New Way To Experience Indy

Next week, crews will begin installing stations for Indianapolis’ new bikeshare system. Users can start renting bike to ride along the Cultural Trail April 22. 2014-04-04T00:00:00-04:00
Bikeshare Aims To Offer New Way To Experience Indy

A bikeshare program is starting this month in Indianapolis.

The system will include 250 bikes and 25 share stations along the Cultural Trail.

City officials announced details, Friday, in Fountain Square. One of the share stations will sit just outside of the community’s library.

"I think it's just a gradual transition of going from no place to being a some place," said Dawn Kroh, President of the Fountain Square Merchant’s Association and local business owner.  "This is another way to say we are some place, we are a destination.  So, it's very helpful."

It will be called the Pacers Bikeshare.  Team owner Herbert Simon’s family foundation contributed about $1 million for the program.

Users pay $8 for 24 hour access to the bikeshare or an annual fee of $80.  The first 30 minutes of each ride is free and then it is two dollars for the next half hour and four dollars for every 30 minutes after.

“It'll be fun.  It'll be easy.  It'll be a healthy way to commute around downtown, to grab dinner after work, to get to where you are going, and for our visitors to really be able to get out and about and see all of our downtown neighborhoods like Fountain Square, like Mass Ave, all of our cultural districts that are a little bit farther than people might feel comfortable walking when they are visiting our downtown," said Cultural Trail Executive Director, Karen Haley.  "The bikes make it easy, and make it fun, and make it simple for them to travel to travel.”

Other bikeshares around the world have experienced problems, which hurt popularity and participation.  But Central Indiana Community Foundation CEO Brian Payne, who came up with the idea for the Cultural Trail, believes Indianapolis has designed a system to mitigate similar issues.

"If you are going to invite people to get on a bikeshare and they have to drive down busy streets where there are no bike lanes, it's not going to work," he said.  "Paris has been challenged because it started too big, too fast.  New York has been challenged because it started too big, too fast and they have bikes in neighborhoods that don't have any bike infrastructure.  That's not going to work."

"The Cultural Trail, I think is the key.  If we didn't have the Cultural Trail, it wouldn't make sense to have the bikeshare yet," said Payne.

Indianapolis' program is much smaller than the one in Minneapolis which now has 1,500 bikes and 170 share stations. The program there launched four years ago and has doubled in size since. Nice Ride Minnesota Executive Director Bill Dossett worked with organizers of Indy’s program and believes it has similar growth potential.

"I think bikeshare is working in over 500 cities right now, so we know it can work in Indianapolis," he said.  "The question is, each city is going to do it in a little bit different way and figuring out the right system for Indianapolis is probably going to take a little bit."

But, he agrees with local organizers and believes coordinating the bikeshare program with the Cultural Trail makes it viable.

"I think it is a mistake to think of bikeshare alone in any city.  It really is the combination of things you are doing with your transit, with your high density development, with your infrastructure," said Dossett.  "In Indianapolis, the Cultural Trail is really a fantastic example of picking the right infrastructure for your city to make people want to come downtown."

One million dollars in Federal grants is paying for the startup costs.  The Cultural Trail will pay for the ongoing operations.

Installation of the bikeshare stations begins next week and users can rent bike starting April 22.



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