cleveland bike advocates make push for bike-sharing network

That's no crass come-on, but rather an effort to advocate for a Cleveland-based bike-sharing network that has become popular in a number of U.S. cities. For a small fee, bike sharing allows patrons to rent a bike at self-service sites scattered about a city, then return the bike to another site.
Cleveland's Office of Sustainability recently issued a request to conduct a feasibility and implementation study on the service. Minneapolis, Chicago and Chattanooga, Tenn., are among the cities that have recently launched a bike-sharing network.
The local push is being fronted by Bike Cleveland, a group that advocates for the rights of the local cycling community. Earlier this year, the organization teamed with University Circle Inc. and other groups to form a Bike Share Task Force.
By providing greater access to bikes, bike-share programs can help increase the number of people biking, decrease the amount of pollutants in the air and improve community health, says Jacob VanSickle, executive director of Bike Cleveland.

"The city has stepped up," he says of the effort. "We have to determine the model that would work in Cleveland."
VanSickle would like to see bike-sharing docks placed at locations with high-density populations and job rates, including rapid stations, Public Square, college campuses and the Cleveland Clinic. The bikes would typically be used for short trips -- an office worker taking a bus to Public Square, for example, could use the automated bike station instead of taking another bus to his ultimate destination.
Trips of less than 30 minutes would be free of charge. Those using the service more frequently could pay $50 to $70 become annually. They would be charged a fee for treks longer than a half hour.
Promoting bike sharing is part of creating a culture that makes a city more attractive, says VanSickle. Along with the bike-sharing program, Bike Cleveland has been advocating for bike lanes and other cycling-friendly amenities. The group plans to keep the wheels turning until more progress is made.
"Cities with the bike-sharing program are seen as more livable and friendly," says VanSickle. "That's something we can gain from in Cleveland."

SOURCE: Jacob VanSickle
WRITER: Douglas J. Guth
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