B-Cycle Bike Share Coming to Indy

According to the agenda for this week’s Board of Public Works meeting, B-Cycle LLC will be awarded $1.5 million for professional services related to the “Indianapolis Cultural Trail Bike Share”. $1 million of this will come from a CMAQ grant with the remaining $500k unknown at this point in time. According to prior communications, it could be whomever has been selected as the local title sponsor for the service.

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

We do not have any concrete details at the moment regarding the size and scope of the service, but according to anonymous sources, the system could have as many as 25 stations providing 300 bikes to users. Installation of the stations would likely begin sometime next spring with opening of the system shortly thereafter.

Expect something similar in appearance to the picture above from Chicago.

These details are subject to change as we learn more. We will provide updates as they roll in.

Editor’s Note 6-12-2013:

Today the contract was approved and the City released a statement regarding the efforts. There will be two public meetings coming up to provide input on station locations. The first will be Thursday, June 27th from 12:30-2:30 pm and the second will be Wednesday, July 10th from 5:30-7:30 pm. Both meeting will be held downtown at The Platform at 202 E Market Street. Input will also be accepted online beginning June 27th.

Comments 21

  • Seems like this is mostly designed as a way for people staying at downtown hotels to get around. I can’t imagine 25 stations being very useful to a large enough number of locals to keep the program afloat. Hopefully it will encourage tourists (aka convention goers) to explore other parts of Indy while they’re in town, and will eventually get expanded to the rest of the city.

    • It’s not just about taking these bikes around to see the city, but I think a large number of downtown and surrounding businesses will hopefully buy in and get memberships for staff. They are a great way to get to that lunch place that is just far enough where you would have taken a car beforehand. Cuts down time in traffic and is an efficient way to get to meetings. This is great.

      • Yes! This is how I always envisioned a Bike Share program working. If it can be positioned to reach the folks who have short errands to run throughout the day—lunch, post office, etc.—I think it can be wildly successful.

        And I would think the opportunities for staff memberships could easily overlap with many corporate wellness plans.

  • This will definitely be a positive for visitors. While the Indy Bike Hub and WRSP offer bike rentals and good service, the hours of operation are limited. I found this out during my last visit when a large group of us had to rush our schedule to have the bikes returned to the Bike Hub by 5:00pm on a Saturday. With a bike share program, any schedule can be accommodated, making it much more convenient.

  • I really hope that they put more thought into the design of stations than Chicago’s system. Indy is a city figuring out that solid design in downtown is what makes people want to live in and visit the heart of the city. There is no need to stop now.

    • B-cycle stations are very mobile and modular. They are solar powered and can literally be forklifted onto a truck and moved wherever you want them. I believe that Minneapolis picks all of theirs off the street and stores them over the winter. If that’s the case, our system should have plenty of flexibility to find the best locations.

  • I used B-cycle in San Antonio. Had it not existed, I would have probably made a loop of the River Walk and checked out the Alamo since both were close to my hotel. As it was, I ended going as far south as the Blue Star arts community and as far north as the Pearl Brewery.

    As the crow flies, that is about 3.5 miles, but biking along the river and some side streets, I ended up making a 6 mile jaunt and stopped at the art museum, Hemisfair Park, a bike shop, and a few other interesting places.

    • So comparing San Antonio to Indy. Would a bike ride from Downtown/ Canal to Children’s Museum/Butler/IMA/Crown HIll be similar. If so, are there bike lanes/infrastructure for bikers to make that trek up Illinois or Meridian streets to reach those places?

      • I agree with Jeff that this would likely (as of now) not be a good way to get to the Children’s Museum.

        In San Antonio, the entire trip could be made on the paths along the river (River Walk loop and the trail along to river outside of downtown. Comparable in Indy would be the Wapahani Trail along the White River, but even the IMA is a bit further, distance-wise.

        Mostly, I would compare it to going from Fountain Square to the north end of the Canal with some jaunts to things like the zoo and the central library and Monument Circle.

  • This won’t be designed to get people to the Children’s Museum. The IMA could be accessed if someone found their way to the Towpath, but this is really ideal for getting people to go beyond the mile square to places like Fountain Square, Mass Ave, and other fringe areas. This is a big win. An ambitious trail is only good if people are using it and we’ve got to capitalize on this incredible project.

  • For sure, A total win for the city not only tourists. Like the electric car-share program that will be rolling in – this is part of a comprehensive transit system- looks like we are laying the “last miles” first. This is how the connection happens!

  • I’m glad to hear that the ball is rolling on this, and I’ll withhold my critiques until we get more details of the plan, but I truly hope that a 25-station rollout is meant to serve as a catalyst for something bigger. Hopefully local businesses and attractions will be vocal in trying to get kiosks setup at their locations. IUPUI, the downtown hospitals, the Children Museum, Lilly, and several other major employers / residential buildings in the urban core are each only 1-2 miles off of the trail and could really gain from being part of the system. Perhaps it can be set-up in such a way that businesses may opt-in by fronting some of the cost?

  • This is exciting and I’m very much infavor, but I’m left wondering why taxpayer money has to be spent on this. What ever happened to private investment and market enterprise?

    • $1.5M is nothing to sneeze at and in a place like Indy that is highly skeptical of anything non-auto-oriented, it is likely that B-cycle wanted some backing that this thing was going to pay off.

      In any case, I think this is exactly the sort of thing that SHOULD be paid for with public funds. It will be a true economic development tool, increase property values for those located near the stations, will reduce congestion and pollution from cars, and will increase the health of our extremely unhealthy city.

      Roads, for the most part, do none of those things and actually mostly do the opposite of those things. But we have no problem spending many multiples of $1.5M on roads with zero debate. Example:

      • Like I said, I ‘m all for this, but the use of “economic development tool” inserted into every debate, issue or public discourse to mean = use of taxpayer dollars is not a convincing argument. Free market private investment is equally a economic development tool.

        • That is a good point. Indy should remove the barriers that prevent private investment. That is usually a great way to encourage economic development.

          However, a project like this is easily justified as a catalyst project. By creating the cultural trail and taking steps to make sure it useful and used, many many new enterprises taken up by private individuals will see an opportunity to provide services.

          So yes, there is a public investment component that will require taxpayer dollars, but the benefits (including economic activity and new jobs) will definitely be worth the costs. Thus, it is a wise use of public funding. In fact, it is why our city has an office of economic development, to choose which projects are worthy of public funding.

        • GaryBo, I also hate the economic development argument that is haphazardly thrown around. Especially in this state when it comes to building roads.

          That being said, I do not use it lightly for this project and feel that bike share will produce a net benefit (and possibly a HUGE net benefit) for Indianapolis.

          People riding these bikes will be more likely to travel to area attractions (restaurants, museum, concerts, etc) and they will spend money. They will also be forking over cash for the rental. They will be improving their own health with the activity and improving the health of those around them by keeping pollution and particulate out of the air.

          Similar car infrastructure would not have the same benefits. Pollution (even from the EVs program announced for next year uses coal fired electricity), lack of physical activity, the massive space roads eat up, the cost of parking (not just its price), and the danger involved in driving are all net costs to society as Graeme points out in his slide show.

  • I tunes users, I highly recommend downloading Critical Transit podcasts #2 and #3 from May 1st and April 18th 2013 titled “Nice Ride, Bike Sharing in the Twin Cities” and “Madison B-cycle bike sharing”. The guy who hosts these podcast is a huge dork, but he scores excellent interviews with the guys who are the beating heart of two cold-weather bike share systems. They give a VERY candid look at the pros, cons, and issues involved with running a bike share. They also give a very detailed description of the financing of their systems.

  • I look forward to this service. There’s a lot of times I feel like riding a bike – from Downtown to Broad Ripple on the Monon, for instance. Just to ride, for pleasure. But I’m not interested in owning a bike: storing it, maintaining it, paying the upfront cost. So renting one occasionally seems perfect to me

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *