Indianapolis Bike Share: What’s going on?

Chicago B Cycle (image credit: Curt Ailes)
Chicago B Cycle (image credit: Curt Ailes)

April 26th 2012, Federal Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood visited Indianapolis and gave an informal, if not inspiring speech, about Indianapolis and it’s civic cooperation in regards to transportation and infrastructure. He compared the high output produced by civic cooperation to other cities and praised us highly for the output generated. It was fitting then, that CICF President & CEO Brian Payne, and major contributor to the Indianapolis Cultural Trail, chose this event to stand up and proclaim that Indianapolis would be moving forward with another innovative transportation program in April of 2013. That being, a bicycle sharing system.

Indy's Nicest Sidewalk, The Cultural Trail on Mass Ave (image credit: Curt Ailes)
Indy’s Nicest Sidewalk, The Cultural Trail on Mass Ave (image credit: Curt Ailes)

In the initial RFP, authored in December of 2011 and administered through INDOT, the target to begin operations was to be Fall of 2012. Initially, the scope of the project was identified as the 5 downtown cultural districts. Additionally, the RFP requests that someone deeply knowledgeable with the Cultural Trail be involved. Clearly, the intent of the system is one that will function closely with the path of the trail.

Chicago B Cycle (image credit: Curt Ailes)
Chicago B Cycle (image credit: Curt Ailes)

This is a logical, if not expected path forward for a bike share in Indianapolis. Indeed, the Cultural Trail creates a safe path for cyclists to traverse the downtown neighborhoods and a bike share system should be supportive of that. Coupled with the highly successful entertainment options downtown and the growing amount of residential options, it provides an optimum growth opportunity for cycling modal share in the city.

However, with the onset of autumn upon us, it seems reasonable to now ask, “What is going on with the effort to create the bike share system?” Little news has trickled out publicly regarding the proposed system and with the original request date to begin operations all but upon us I wonder what is going on. The Cultural Trail and CICF declined to comment for this story, although I suspect there is a lot going on behind the scenes right now.

Cultural Trail Map (image credit: Indianapolis Cultural Trail)
Cultural Trail Map (image credit: Indianapolis Cultural Trail)

Cities across the world are implementing bicycle share systems and the rate at which cities are opening or planning on opening them is increasing. Many American cities such as Washington, Chicago and Minneapolis already operate a share system. Recently, Portland announced that they had selected a vendor for their new bicycle share. Clearly, cities see the value in opening systems such as these to reduce automobile mode share and the benefits associated with such efforts. Indianapolis has grown awareness of cycling tremendously in the past 5 years yet still stands to benefit from reducing auto mode share. I hope that the planned bicycle share for Indianapolis comes to fruition in the near future and that we can spend keystrokes in this space praising it instead of asking what is going on.

Comments 7

  • I just moved away from DC and it’s bikeshare program is the thing I miss the most. It would be a huge boost for downtown to get a good concentration of bikesharing stations on the cultural trail. I just hope they opt for the bikes that DC uses, and not those pictured in the chicago system.

  • Very good idea. I am going to school in Minneapolis currently and many people use the bike sharing system here. This would be a great way to get people to use the cultural trail more!

  • I agree Chicago bikes are ok and only that. I have seen this first hand. The bike share sytem should be the top of the line.

  • I have used the bike shares in Minneapolis, Denver, and Barcelona and LOVED them all! Denver was outstanding as a visitor as the bikes were free for any distance (after an initial ‘membership’ fee) as long as you parked it again within 1/2 hour. We were able to get almost everywhere in downtown within that time frame and there was always a station within a few blocks. Easy to use mobile interface as well told you if there were bikes available. What I would hate to see is for Indy to do it half- with only a few stations.

  • Good to hear comparisons from other cities, especially in terms of which ones were more accommodating to out-of-town (and out-of-country) visitors. It seems like a huge missed opportunity if a bike sharing system does not accommodate them. I have never used a bike share program, but it’s not for lack of trying–Tel Aviv has one, but it’s essentially possible to use if you don’t have an established credit line or affiliation with an Israeli bank.

  • I used the bikeshare when I was in the Twin Cities this summer. I found it very convenient. It covered a pretty substantial portion of the inner city areas. I would hope for an Indy program to include substantial coverage outside of the downtown core for this to be a real success for the community. However, I would be a little hesitant to be confident that we have the density of likely users to support it in many areas outside downtown. I could see some stations on the near northside, perhaps up to the Children’s Museum & IMA, and stretching up the Monon/College corridor to Broad Ripple. It’s hard to imagine a sting of stations in any other direction from downtown being successful. Where else could they go and be heavily utilized and not unused and vandalized? Fountain Square seems obvious. E. 10th St? Irvington? Are there enough destinations between downtown and Irvington to create a feasible string of stations connecting the two? Are there enough safe and active places for stations that would attact legitimate users? I’m optimistic that it can be successful, but I think it will be a major challenge to build a network that is large enough to be useful while still attracting enough users to be practical, i.e. not overly/unaffordably subsidized.

    Here’s a link to the Twin Cities map:

  • I live in London but I’m coming to Indianapolis and I’ll definitely be using the bikes. In London it’s miles too dangerous to ride the “Boris Bikes” as they’re known, but I’ve riden the bikes in San Antonio, Texas, and they’re good. There’s little traffic in San Antonio, which makes riding there a pleasure. Never been to Indianapolis before, but it looks like a great place.

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