Before a crowd of bicycle pin-clad enthusiasts, City Council’s Committee on Transportation and Public Utilities held a public hearing today on a bill authorizing our first ever bike share, which is scheduled to come in spring 2015.
Headed by Councilwoman Blondell Reynolds Brown, the purpose of the hearing was to authorize the city to enter into an agreement with Bicycle Transit Systems, a Philly based company, to plan and operate a bicycle sharing program, and with B-cycle to provide bicycles, stations and tech platforms. The system will initially boast 60 stations spanning locations like the Navy Yard and Temple.
Along with making Philly fitter and greener, Council stated an additional goal is to benefit low-income communities. Andrew Stober, Mayor Nutter’s Chief of Staff for Transportation and Utilities, said that Philadelphia’s bike share program will create a more “equitable society” where ZIP code isn’t a factor. Additionally, Philly is pioneering the effort to remove credit cards and bank accounts from the equation and replace them with other forms of accountability. The bike share is also hoped to increase revenue by inspiring money-spending trips that otherwise might not happen (quick bike break to lunch, anyone?) And, for nay-sayers, Stober says the program “won’t affect our general fund” as financing is to come from a range of private, state and federal funding sources.
Councilwoman Reynolds Brown seemed particularly excited: At one point she compared Philadelphia Bikeshare founder Russell Meddin to Gandhi for converting so many to the hair-blowing-in-the-breeze, cheaper, and healthier transportation side.