Bike-sharing program could be in Tucson's future

Published: Sep. 22, 2015 at 8:48 PM MST|Updated: Nov. 18, 2015 at 1:18 AM MST
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TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) - Tucson may join 77 other major metropolitan areas across the U.S. to invest in a bike-sharing program.

Under the bike-sharing system Tucson is looking at, there would initially be 30 bike stations and 300 bicycles, mostly near the Tucson Streetcar line.

Riders would pay to sign up for the program with a debit or credit card, and would use it mostly for short trips that may be too long for walking, but are easily accessible for biking.

Cities like Dallas-Fort Worth, Minneapolis-St.Paul and Denver have proven success with their systems.

Phoenix started a new bike share program late last year with 500 bikes.

"They've seen great success," said Ann Chanecka, who will be going to Phoenix next week to check it out.

Chanecka is bicycle and pedestrian coordinator for the City of Tucson transportation department.

Tucson is in the process of digesting a recent feasibility study which shows Tucson's inner core can support a bike share program.

The type Tucson is looking at could cost anywhere from $1 to $1.6 million.

The strategy is a public-private partnership, which will rely on government grants as well as private support.

Supporters are buoyed by a recent report, which shows 75 percent of people in Tucson favor a bike-sharing program.

People are driving fewer miles and are looking for alternative forms of transportation.

State and federal funds are available through transportation grants.

"There's actually not many systems that subsidize it through the local governments," Chanecka said. "Many systems don't use any money from their general fund."

But some do, and that's a challenge Tucson faces.

"We're really trying to find out if this can make sense and this can work for Tucson," she said.

It's hoped that a decision can be made within the next year.

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