April 26th 2012, Federal Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood visited Indianapolis and gave an informal, if not inspiring speech, about Indianapolis and it’s civic cooperation in regards to transportation and infrastructure. He compared the high output produced by civic cooperation to other cities and praised us highly for the output generated. It was fitting then, that CICF President & CEO Brian Payne, and major contributor to the Indianapolis Cultural Trail, chose this event to stand up and proclaim that Indianapolis would be moving forward with another innovative transportation program in April of 2013. That being, a bicycle sharing system.
In the initial RFP, authored in December of 2011 and administered through INDOT, the target to begin operations was to be Fall of 2012. Initially, the scope of the project was identified as the 5 downtown cultural districts. Additionally, the RFP requests that someone deeply knowledgeable with the Cultural Trail be involved. Clearly, the intent of the system is one that will function closely with the path of the trail.
This is a logical, if not expected path forward for a bike share in Indianapolis. Indeed, the Cultural Trail creates a safe path for cyclists to traverse the downtown neighborhoods and a bike share system should be supportive of that. Coupled with the highly successful entertainment options downtown and the growing amount of residential options, it provides an optimum growth opportunity for cycling modal share in the city.
However, with the onset of autumn upon us, it seems reasonable to now ask, “What is going on with the effort to create the bike share system?” Little news has trickled out publicly regarding the proposed system and with the original request date to begin operations all but upon us I wonder what is going on. The Cultural Trail and CICF declined to comment for this story, although I suspect there is a lot going on behind the scenes right now.
Cities across the world are implementing bicycle share systems and the rate at which cities are opening or planning on opening them is increasing. Many American cities such as Washington, Chicago and Minneapolis already operate a share system. Recently, Portland announced that they had selected a vendor for their new bicycle share. Clearly, cities see the value in opening systems such as these to reduce automobile mode share and the benefits associated with such efforts. Indianapolis has grown awareness of cycling tremendously in the past 5 years yet still stands to benefit from reducing auto mode share. I hope that the planned bicycle share for Indianapolis comes to fruition in the near future and that we can spend keystrokes in this space praising it instead of asking what is going on.