Bike-sharing program expected to begin in October


After years of planning, the University of Iowa’s bike-sharing program is scheduled to go into beginning phases this October.

The UI Parking & Transportation Department received a $135,300 grant to kick-start the program, but those funds are not yet accessible.

“We received the funding commitment from the Department of Transportation, but the funds are not released until October of 2015,” said Liz Christiansen, the director of the UI Office of Sustainability.

Additionally, the Sustainability Office has a local match of $41,700. The money will be used to purchase bikes, install bike stations, and develop the software necessary to rent out the bikes.

Currently, the plan is to purchase an estimated 30 bikes.

“[The program] would have three stations, which would be the three [bicycle] docks,” Christiansen said. “The software program would be observed among those three stations.”

The recommendations for where the three stations should be located include one near the East Side residence halls, one near the Seamans Center, and one near the Pedestrian Mall.

Gocale Nicoue, the UI Student Government sustainability liaison, said the process of implementing the bike-sharing program will begin with a small plan and evaluating where the bike docks will be placed on campus.

“All the plans are being developed right now,” Nicoue said. “The goal is to allow it expand beyond campus.”

UISG has been heavily involved in the project since the beginning.

“UISG initially brought up the idea of a bike-share program and will continue its commitment to help bring one to campus,” UISG Vice President Jeffrey Ding said.

Bringing a bike-sharing program to campus is part of the BEACH Party’s platform for the upcoming UISG election.

“I think it’s a great thing,” said Sam Wampler, the BEACH Party presidential candidate. “It can actually happen. We have the resources to make it happen. Someone has to take the lead and make this a priority.”

Wampler also said the UI’s goal is to reduce carbon emission by 10 percent by the year 2020, and he believes the proposal is a step toward that goal.

“The reason we’re so big on [the bike-sharing program] is because we believe in the 2020 sustainability goals,” he said.

Currently, officials are continuing to investigate different bike-sharing models and observing what other communities and campuses are doing with their program.

Christiansen said bike-sharing programs are very popular once they are established, and she hopes it will help reduce vehicle traffic in and around downtown.

“Iowa City is a biking center for Iowa,” Christiansen said. “We have a very strong bike culture here, and we know that a biking program would be embraced.”

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