Bike-Share Program Coming to Philadelphia

Sometime next summer or fall, Philadelphia expects to join New York, Boston, Chicago, and other major cities with a bike-sharing program that will enable registered users to pick up a bicycle at a station in one part of town, ride around, and drop off the bike at another station as easily as they would make the trip in a taxi - apart from the exercise.
August 23, 2013

Sometime next summer or fall, Philadelphia expects to join New York, Boston, Chicago, and other major cities with a bike-sharing program that will enable registered users to pick up a bicycle at a station in one part of town, ride around, and drop off the bike at another station as easily as they would make the trip in a taxi - apart from the exercise.

The Nutter administration announced completion Thursday of a strategic business plan for the venture. Over three years, it projects creation of at least 150 bicycle stations, with at least 1,500 bikes, in an area stretching from the Delaware River to West Philadelphia, and from the Navy Yard in South Philadelphia through Center City and past Temple University's main campus.

Users would likely pay from $75 to $125 a year to join the system, with lower daily and weekly rates for tourists or others who want just to try it, according to preliminary financial projections. Registered users would be issued a membership card with an electronic code that would allow them to remove a bicycle from any station, use it as desired, and return it to another station. Extra charges of $20 or $25 would discourage members from keeping bikes overnight, according to Andrew Stober, chief of staff to Rina Cutler, deputy mayor for transportation and utilities.

"The system's not intended for that kind of use," Stober said. "We expect the average trip would be just a mile and a half. Most people are not going to bike more than three miles. It will take too long, or you'll get too sweaty doing it."

In Washington, Capital Bikeshare has been operating for three years, with members recording more than four million trips. To encourage short trips and keep the bikes circulating, the bikes are free for the first 30 minutes and cost $1.50 for the next half-hour, with escalating rates, up to $12 an hour, for longer trips.

New York City launched its Citibike program at the end of May - sponsored by Citibank, which spent $41 million for naming rights - and already has 70,000 members putting up $95 a year each to join, Stober said.

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