Bike share program deadline approaches

Capital Bikeshare station
Bike-sharing programs now operate in 375 cities around the world, including 23 in the United States (pictured here: Capital Bikeshare in Washington, D.C.) The Mayor’s Office of Transportation and Utilities aims to add Philadelphia to the list in 2014. Photo by Mario Roberto Duran Ortiz from Wikimedia Commons, used under a Creative Commons license.

A bike sharing program for Philadelphia has taken another step toward becoming a reality. The Mayor’s Office of Transportation and Utilities (MOTU), along with the Pennsylvania Environmental Council and the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia, have imposed a deadline of January 14 for business model proposals.

The goal of the MOTU is to launch a bike sharing program by 2014. The City has already set aside $3 million to meet that goal.

The timing of the announcement of a bike sharing program coincides with the recent expansion of Bike Score rankings to Philadelphia and 14 other cities by the website Walk Score. Philadelphia’s overall Bike Score of 68 ties it with Boston as the fourth most bikeable city in the country. According to Walk Score, Center City, South Philly and University City are the most bike friendly areas of the city.

The Bike Score rates on a scale of 0-100 and looks at population density, bike lanes and trails, hilliness of the area, amenities, road connections, and number of bike commuters.

The City is quickly embracing the benefits of bike commuting and providing the necessary infrastructure. Last month the City Council passed the Complete Streets bill that encourages streets designed for multiple uses and imposes a $75 fine on anyone parked in a bike lane.

Bike lanes and connectivity to bike trails are also being expanded in the city. The Schuylkill River Trail currently runs from Valley Forge to Locust Street in Philadelphia, and construction is underway that will extend the trail to the South Street Bridge. The eventual plan is to connect the trail to Bartram’s Garden and the Delaware River.

The city has added more bike lanes in recent years as well. This summer, bike lanes were installed along Walnut and Chestnut streets connecting Center City West and University City.

Philadelphia hopes to have between 1,000 to 2,000 bikes dispersed among 100 to 120 stations. Currently over 20 cities across the country offer bike sharing programs.