The same day legislation to extend the city’s concession agreement for bicycle rentals in Fairmount Park was introduced, City Council President Darrell Clarke said Thursday that the governing body is also looking into another model of bike sharing citywide.
While bikes can currently be rented in Philadelphia through isolated companies, primarily at certain tourist locations like Fairmount Park, Clarke said he’s interested in investigating a more comprehensive citywide system of point-to-point bike shares.
“They are primarily recreational right now, but bike shares could act as a transit situation,” he said. “If people could rent a bike near their home, ride it to work and leave it at a bike station near their job, it might be more advantageous.”
It’s not the first time Council has considered the issue – in 2008, they passed a resolution sponsored by Councilwoman Blondell Reynolds Brown requesting the Deputy Mayor of Transportation and Utilities to conduct a feasibility study for what they called “public use bicycle stations” for the entire city.
The results of the study, released in 2010, found there was a robust market for the service in Philadelphia and suggested starting off with 1,750 bicycles in a 15-mile area stretching from Center City to parts of North, South and West Philadelphia.
But with a projected $4.4 million per year price tag, the project fell by the wayside as the city had to make difficult financial decisions during the economic downturn. Similar challenges remain for the city.
Philly still lags behind other cities
Philadelphia lags behind other U.S. cities when it comes to bike sharing. Boston, New York City, Baltimore and Washington are all expected to have point-to-point systems in place by this summer, according to nonprofit Bike Share Philadelphia, which says members have sent over 2,000 letters to Nutter since 2008 advocating for a similar program here.