That's the message that came out of today's rainy press conference held outside City Hall this morning, where Mayor Bob Buckhorn and Coast Bike Share's Eric Trull discussed the details which will see a bike sharing program similar to ones that have been installed in big cities across the globe rolling out in the Tampa Bay area by next month.
"This is another piece of the puzzle for everything that we're trying to do downtown," Buckhorn said under a tent that protected him and Trull. "I want to see these blue bikes all over downtown and Hyde Park and Ybor City as people move from very livable neighborhoods in close proximity to downtown, leave their cars in their garage, get on a bike, get healthy, get outdoors ... we're going to paint this town blue," he said in reference to the bikes that will be located in 30 different locations across the city, with the majority to be installed next month downtown, in Ybor City, Channelside, Hyde Park and Davis Islands.
There will be 300 bikes in all for citizens and visitors to access from kiosks and bike racks. Bike Share's Eric Trull says that's about normal for the six square miles that the program will initiate from.
The Mayor and Trull announced that founding memberships are now available for the program for $99. That includes an additional 30 minutes of ride time on top of the regular one hour daily ride time included with all Coast Bike Share memberships. Daily memberships will be $5, monthly memberships $30 and annual memberships $79, and can be obtained by going to coastbikeshare.com.
"The bikes are lighter, the bike is higher tech and theft resistant," touts Jim Shirk from the Hillsborough County Bicycle Pedestrian Advisory Committee. Shirk's company City Bike Tampa is working on obtaining a maintenance contract from Coast Bike Share but has no affiliation with the company. But Shirk considers himself somewhat of an expert on such systems, having used bike share programs in Buenos Aires, New York City, Washington D.C. and Toronto.
The program was scheduled to begin in the spring, but Trull says that a technology change with how the customer will access the bikes is the reason for that delay. Pointing to what resembles a small computer currently on the back of the bikes, he says that instead the bikes will be accompanied by a nine-digit touchscreen which will facilitate a better "user experience." There will also be a radio transmitter card that each member will own that they can tap on that touchscreen and then a four-digit PIN that they will type to get the bike.
Trull envisions young professionals in the downtown area and Channelside using the service immediately. Among the places where the bikes will be stationed include near the Tampa Bay Times Forum, Curtis Hixon Park, Hyde Park Village, and near the Hillsborough County courthouse.
Further expansion could include parts of South Howard, a place populated by lots of twentysomethings with few public places to park. Trull says it will not be legal to ride such a bike if the customer is inebriated. And he says that "after certain hours, I'm going to tell you to call a cab just to make sure you're making the right decision."
A bike-share program scheduled to begin this spring in Tampa will now officially start up sometime in August.