Bike Sharing In Houston: It's Like Bike Renting, Without Dealing With People

Bikes ready for the taking
Bikes ready for the taking
Photo via Swamplot, by Laura Spanjian

The city of Houston set up a demonstration earlier this week for a proposed "bike sharing" program it's looking to initiate next year.

What's "bike sharing"? It's like the "bike renting" you do at Galveston or other tourist spots, except you don't have to deal with human beings. Insert a credit card at a kiosk, take a bike, return it and get charged for your time.

Laura Spanjian of the city's Green Initiative tells Hair Balls the demonstration this week at Discovery Green is just the beginning.

There will likely be an initial plan for kiosks at Discovery Green and maybe along Buffalo Bayou, but with the help of a $423,000 grant the program could grow significantly, she said.

She says the city will develop "a plan that will outline how a robust, 500-750 bikes, bike share program could work, where to put kiosks, etc. We will then use that plan to find significant funding for a bike share program for Houston."

The company running the program demonstration, called B-Cycle, already operates in Chicago. The rates there:

There are two ways of renting a bike from B-cycle. Dedicated users can purchase memberships online at a rate of $35 a month, or up to $55 for three months, with $10 discounts for students and seniors. Members get their first hour of every ride free then pay an additional $5 per hour.

The casual biker or tourist can plug a credit card into a kiosk and purchase a temporary pass at a rate of $10 for the first hour and $5 for every additional hour, with a maximum fee of $40 per day.

Can it catch on in Houston? Color us skeptical.


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