AUSTIN -- The car2go program is popular in Austin. You can rent one of the cars, drive it around, and then leave it parked in a special spot for the next customer. Now imagine a program like that with bicycles. It will soon become a reality, as the city's new bike sharing program gets ready to roll.
Austin is a bike-friendly town, and it's about to get even more friendly.
Thursday Austin City Council members approved a contract with equipment vender B-Cycle to move ahead with the bike share program. It's being funded with a $1.5 million federal grant.
The city will also get a total of $500,000 from the group Bike Share Austin, which will be responsible for maintaining the bikes.
Co-founder David Rockwood says this will help many people get from home to work and back without needing a car.
“Austin is way overdue for a bike share,” said Rockwood. “There'll be people using them for commuting and then of course if you've parked your car in a garage downtown and you want to go to the East Side it would be a lot easier just to hop on a bike than it is to navigate traffic in your car at any time of day.”
Austin will be the fourth Texas city to put a bike share program in place. San Antonio was the first.
The bikes will be equipped with GPS tracking to prevent theft, a built-in kryptonite cable lock and always-on front and rear lights.
Right now the plan is to have about 400 bikes available in the program. They would be stationed at about 40 kiosks scattered throughout downtown.
“By the end of the year we'll have about 10 stations and 100 bikes able to be released to the public,” said Shannon Wisner with the city’s Public Works Department. “By Spring 2014 we plan to roll out the remainder of the system.”
It's good news to cyclists like Julie Lawson who say it's way past time to get the program rolling.
“We just returned from a three-month trip to Europe, and they were all over Europe,” Lawson said. “It is a good idea, and it will cut down on people consuming gasoline.”
The city wants the public to tell it where the bike kiosks should be located. People can give their input and vote on where those kiosks should be starting in July.