Bike Share Comes to Phoenix

Editor’s Note: We’re getting a bike-share, y’all The City of Phoenix selected a team consisting of CycleHop, Social Bicycles and SandVault to fund, deploy, operate and supply equipment for the program. We’re looking at about 300 to 500 bikes and around 30 stations up and running by the end of the year.

To celebrate this, and see how bike shares have gone over in other cities, we invited Karina Yudharto – a D.C. resident – to give us a sneak peak of their bike share program and what we might expect.

bike shareThe bike-share system in D.C. is revolutionary.

Our new regional-transit alternative doesn’t require endless construction of subway tunnels or roads nor contribute to pollution or traffic congestion.

Instead, the bike-share program unites the community to get people riding—and sharing—bikes as a reasonable, cost-efficient form of public transit for short-distance travel. The utility of public bikes, open to anyone, anywhere, 24/7, is faster than walking, and cheaper than trains and cabs.

The D.C. bike-share program, called Capital Bikeshare (or, affectionately, CaBi), unites Washington, D.C., Arlington and Alexandria, VA on one bike system. It launched only two-and-a-half years ago in September 2010 and, despite its youth, it was the largest program in the nation with 201+ stations and 1,800+ bikes until New York City unveiled their program last month.

NYC’s Citi Bike program has 6,000 bikes and 330 stations throughout Manhattan and Brooklyn. NYC selected Alta Bicycle, the same Portland-based company that helped install and manage CaBi and other bike-sharing programs in Australia, Europe and China.

There’s a major difference between CaBi and Citi Bike, though.  Each Citi Bike is being used only once per day, compared to about three times per day in D.C. Moreover, D.C. has 306,000 daily members whereas NYC has zero.

That difference is space.

While NYC’s population is 13 times larger than D.C.’s, it’s our wider streets, quieter corners, gravel paths and flatter grounds that make it an ideal city to navigate by bike. The ample space allows for drivers, pedestrians and bike-stations to co-exist amicably—much as I believe they will in Phoenix.

While most D.C.-ists are fans of the bike-share concept, we had a bit of a rough start over the lack of bike protocol and helmets. D.C.’s solution will come from increasing bike lanes and working to encourage both the bike share community and drivers to observe, practice and value good bike etiquette. That, and a BYOHelmet attitude. (D.C., like Phoenix, doesn’t require helmets for bikers, but they are strongly recommended.)

Phoenix-bike-station-e1368569052807So what lies ahead for Phoenix?

Once you have bike-share stations nearby, your transportation options will expand exponentially. You will no longer be limited to driving short distances, waiting for light rail or bus, or walking in the heat. Instead, you can just hop on a bike and go wherever you need quickly and easily.

The process is seamless. Grab a comfortable bike—which is all of them—and take it for a spin. There is no need to worry about locks since the bikes are docked, repairs are done by management and every bike comes fully loaded with three speeds, solar-powered lights and a sturdy basket with a bungee cord. What’s more, it’s an alternative exercise when you miss the gym (cycle away the guilt!). Finally, as a member, you get discounts and perks on all sorts of fun.

It’s going to be a magnificent addition to the Valley.

Have fun, feel good and enjoy the bike-share life, Phoenix!

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Karina Yudharto
Karina Yudharto is an adventurer and storyteller at heart. She's been to over 25 countries and lives for music under the stars and unplanned moments that make the best stories.

  1. Kathy says:

    I am SO looking forward to having this service. I live in Buckeye, one of the furthest out suburbs on the West side of Phoenix. We have a new park and ride near me and I was excited to try bringing my bike on the bus and then spend the day riding around Phoenix before heading home on the evening commuter bus (there are only two inbound and two outbound buses per day that serve Buckeye.) It turned into a disaster when the late afternoon bus’s bike rack already had two bikes on it and I was not permitted to board the bus with my bike, even though there were only a handful of people on the bus and they all said they would not mind, please don’t strand this poor girl in downtown Phoenix, etc. No luck. The driver refused to let me board with my bicycle. The Metro “help line” tried but finally admitted they simply could not get me home that night. I faced being stranded overnight in a Phoenix park guarding a $700 bike or trying to ride unknown roads through crappy neighborhoods like Maryvale for about 30 miles – at night – yeah right. Thank goodness passengers waiting for other buses put their heads together and came to my rescue by crafting a multi-bus route that would get me at least to Goodyear IF each of those buses had room on their bike racks, from where I could ride “only” 5 miles or so of dark, no-bike-lane roads to get home. The buses’ bike racks all had room, and I didn’t get hit by a car riding on the dark roads. But obviously, I would never try that again! With the new Bike Share program I will be able to leave my bike at home and take the bus on foot, and use a Bike Share bike to get around and NOT have to worry about being stranded overnight like a homeless person.

  2. Karen says:

    Is there a charge to use the bikes? Will all day bus passes work if there is a charge?

  3. aconsie says:

    According to KTAR’s article, the report from the city has Cycle Hop quoting a one-day rental at $5, a five-day at $20 and 30-day at $30. The first hour is free and each additional 30 minutes would cost an extra $2.00. Annual memberships would also be offered.

    I’m not sure if bike-share rental will be integrated with bus or light rail passes.

  4. Claudia Sieb says:

    This is terrific news – and something European cities have been doing for 30 years that I know of. It works, it makes sense. Especially for people working downtown who don’t want to re-park their car etc. just to run an errand. We live and work in Central Phoenix and either my husband or I ride a bike into work every day, (or walk) with the other driving. We’ve been doing it for quite awhile without a snag. Proof you can teach old dogs new tricks! Congratulations to Phoenix for this step! Now all we need is Zipcars!

  5. Kurt Creager says:

    Alta Bicycle and Alta Planning and Design have taken the issue of mobility for the masses worldwide; NYC: DC and Portlandia. Phoenix is fertile ground for such a program. This week’s Willamette Week has an in-depth story about Alta’s founder:
    Ride On! Kurt

  6. Sue says:

    Where are all the stations? Do they have a list of places where these bikes will be. Especially in the downtown area on central?