Coming Soon: Columbia Mayor to announce details of bike share program

Bike share program coming to Columbia

COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - Columbia city officials say Mayor Steve Benjamin will formally announce more specifics behind a "bike share" program for the city.

The new announcement comes after a partnership with Canadian-based bike share company Bewegen Technology. City officials say they took the contract with Bewegen to the city council in March.

The bike share programs exist in cities across the country. They allow people to rent a bicycle and ride for a specific amount of time.

Missy Gentry is the assistant city manager over development services in Columbia. Gentry says the bike share program will be split between two phases.

Phase one will include 15 stations, placed in different areas throughout the city. She says the stations will likely resemble bicycle racks that will hold the rentable bicycles. Riders will rent the bicycles at the station and then return them to the same, or a different station.

Initially, there are plans to have 135 bicycles in the city, 50 of which will be pedelec bicycles - bikes with a small electric motor. She says the plan is to have the bicycles in place by the end of September.

City officials in the planning and development department say phase two will consist of 10 additional stations and 90 additional bicycles. However, she says phase two will proceed based on the results for phase one. She says there is not a timetable yet for phase one.

Gentry says citizens can expect the public meeting to be a more specific announcement of where these stations will be placed, the visual makeup of the bicycles and an announcement of any sponsorships, which will help pay for the program.

Gentry says the city will not be paying for the program.

Generally speaking, Gentry says the stations will be located at key hubs throughout the city including the Main Street district, the Vista, and Five Points.

She adds the bicycles will also be placed at locations in proximity to USC's campus. She says the city has spoken with USC officials for some time about the bike share program.

As for the future of the program, Gentry says city officials currently do not have plans to scrap the program if it does not catch on.

However, if the program does reach profitability, Gentry states 80 percent of those funds will go to the city to be used for additional projects, like bike infrastructure.

In light of recent bicycle woes for the city, Gentry adds they have taken steps to ensure this bike share program does not follow the path of the Farrow Road bike lane project where lanes were removed by the city in July after public outcry.

She says they will be in close communication with the public and will work to share advancements of the bike share program as it moves forward.

Officials say the announcement will be held at 10:30 a.m. on Monday at the Lincoln Street tunnel located near Lincoln and Lady streets. This is part of an ongoing effort by the city of Columbia officials to make the city more pedestrian and bicycle friendly.

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