City of Davis and UC Davis Transportation and Parking Services (TAPS) are jointly considering implementing a bike share program that would facilitate both short- and long-term bicycle rentals. The proposed plan is in its initial stage of exploration, with both organizations considering a range of potential vendors to provide the service that best suits the city’s and campus’ dual needs.
“We’re excited about this opportunity. We’re hoping that some vendor out there comes with the program or service that we’re going to need to make this thing work,” said Clifford Contreras, director of TAPS.
The several potential providers encompass a range of different systems that would fulfill different needs. Among those being considered are Brompton Dock, Bixi and B-cycle, with each offering a distinct bike sharing program. Many of the options incorporate third-generation technology, which enables users to access a bike through an automated system and then return it to a docking station after its use.
“The third-generation bike share meets people’s specific needs. We want to give people in Davis this option,” said Dave Kemp, pedestrian and bicycle coordinator for the City of Davis.
Advancements in bike-sharing technology, furthermore, have brought about an increase in the number of organizations offering bike-sharing services.
“Now that systems are becoming more advanced and user friendly, there’s a lot more competition. Each offers very different systems logistically speaking. We want to find the way that works best financially for us,” said David Takemoto-Weerts, bicycle program coordinator at TAPS.
Contreras had a similar view about bike-sharing technology.
“It’s become a very competitive process. We will evaluate the proposals on the basis of whether the bidder is going to be able to meet the needs of the campus and the city,” Contreras said.
The program would primarily target those visiting Davis on a temporary basis, such as visiting professors, conference guests and visiting family or friends. Two initial stations are planned to be located at the Southern Pacific Depot and a central site on campus, either at the Memorial Union or at the Silo.
“The university is Davis’ number-one employer, which is why our primary goal is linking the campus with the train station,” Kemp said.
Providing tourists with a means of travel is a crucial underlying motive to the proposed scheme, and providing bikes to satisfy this is particularly significant given Davis’ reputation as the Bicycle Capital of the U.S.
“We want tourists to get here and have a means to experience Davis without having to rely on a vehicle or by foot,” Kemp said.
It is hoped that with due diligence and careful planning, a bike share system can be implemented as early as 2014.
“We’re moving along slowly and carefully to implement this in an intelligent way. We’re hoping that by mid-2014 we can have something on the ground,” Kemp said.
The initial investment to start the program is approximately $200,000, with this figure likely to fluctuate depending on the preferred system provider. This will be funded by a number of different contributions through the city, university regional development and key advertising opportunities that would encourage corporate sponsorship.
This cost could prove to be a setback in the implementation of the scheme, with opponents arguing that the money would be better invested in improving the cycling infrastructure — such as repairing bike lanes or providing covered racks.
The biggest hurdle from TAPS’ perspective is cost.
“If we can minimize our investment by securing grants from partnering with the city and bringing to the table potential subsidies through advertising, the project is more viable,” Contreras said. “Ultimately, we’ll find something that meets our needs. We’ll put it onto campus, and I think campus will be better for it. Once it’s here, people will be thinking, ‘What took [us] so long?’”
JOE STEPTOE can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.