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Something Borrowed, Something New: Boise Bike Share Closer to Reality

Project comes into focus during Tuesday, October 16 meeting


Promising to be a model for other cities in establishing a sustainable transportation alternative, architects of the Boise Bike Share Program say they're at a critical stage: securing private funding in order to launch the initiative, which would install 14 bike stations and send 140 shared bikes into the hands of Boise's citizenry.

BBSP is pursuing federal and private funding for the project, with an initial cash infusion coming from Boise State University, the Capital City Development Corporation and the Central District Health Department, which is the lead agency in developing the program. Once under way, a proposed budget estimates annual expenses to be approximately $350,000, with annual income of approximately $440,000.

A 2010 analysis indicated that 33 percent of Boiseans traveled less than 15 minutes to work, and 51 percent had a travel time of 15-29 minutes. BBSP would target commuters who could travel to work either completely by bike or in combination with public transit.

In addition to the Boise State campus, BBSP has defined its downtown Boise service area with borders of Broadway Avenue and Fort, 16th, River and Ninth streets. Fourteen primary bike stations would be strategically spread out by distances of no more than 1,630 feet (approximately one-quarter-mile). Some stations, in the downtown core, would be no more than two blocks away from one another. Each bike would be equipped with GPS technology so that users can find and return bikes to open stations. Special kiosks will be set up at special events to encourage usage. Each bike has a basket that holds cargo up to 20 pounds and even holds a cup of coffee.

Proposed pricing would allow members to ride 30 minutes for free, $1.50 for the next 30 minutes, and $4 for each successive 30 minutes. Long-term users could purchase 24-hour passes for $8, seven-day passes for $25, and annual passes for $65 ($45 for students).

But organizers recognize that their greatest challenge will be sustainability. If BBSP follows the trend of other bike share systems, membership and user fees will make up only about one-third of the cost of maintenance and operations. The remaining costs will need to be covered through grants, fundraising activities, sponsorships and advertising.

BBSP is also exploring the possibility of linking bike share membership with mass transit sales.