The “bicycle capital of the Northwest” may soon be home to a bike share program.
The Redmond City Council is considering action in April which, if approved, is anticipated to enable bike share to launch in May. May, the annual “Bike Everywhere Month,” is a common time of year to begin new bicycle initiatives.
Karen Anderson, director of planning and community development, said that the program is meant to provide opportunities for both recreation and transportation — especially for first/last mile connections — in the city, which has already made significant investments in bike infrastructure.
Each bike share company is independent and has its own system of bikes and smartphone applications. The apps are used to find bicycles, unlock a bicycle and pay for rides; and certain companies offer the first ride for free.
The bikes are dockless, meaning that they can be picked up and dropped off anywhere. Dockless bike share started in Seattle last year, and some of the orange, green, and yellow Spin, Limebike, and Ofo bikes have been spotted on the Eastside, though the program hasn’t launched here yet.
Those three companies were present at a bike share open house hosted by the City of Bellevue a few months ago, Anderson said. Some Eastside cities have been trying to coordinate the launch of the new technology and the new regulations that have to come with it.
The bike share service in Redmond would be provided by the private companies via a city permit, at no cost to the city. A minor municipal code amendment is necessary to issue the permit, which will be brought to the City Council via an ordinance next month.
The city has to change its right of way regulations to allow the bike share vendors to operate and to put some “rules of the road” in place to make sure they’re good neighbors in Redmond, Anderson said. For example, the companies are responsible for removing bikes that have been vandalized or are causing a nuisance. They’re also in charge of “inventory rebalancing,” to prevent the bikes from clustering in certain areas.
City officials say that bike share will provide flexibility in the city’s transportation system, providing an alternative to car travel and easier access to transit. Redmond’s Transportation Master Plan has long called for bike share service in order to help provide travel choices for residents, employees and visitors.
The average trip length for all trips in Redmond is 2.2 miles, or about a 15 minute bicycle ride, according to the city.
Anderson said that the main questions residents have are: when is the program launching, and how will the city control for safety hazards and nuisances.
If bike share comes to Redmond and there is an issue, citizens would be asked to contact the bike share provider. Contacts will be provided when operation begins, according to the city. The city won’t have an exclusive contract with any one vendor, but will also be a point of contact for residents with concerns, Anderson said.
“We would of course take the call and try to resolve it,” she said.
City planners are developing recommendations for a permit that would allow a phased rollout of bike share starting in May, with the opportunity for expansion if the program is working well.
Issues being considered for the permit include: number of bikes to allow in Redmond; ensuring bicycles are not a hazard and do not impede pedestrian mobility; and vendor responsiveness to public questions and issues.
For questions about bike share, visit www.redmond.gov/bikeshare or contact Buff Brown, senior transit planner, at firstname.lastname@example.org or (425) 556-2870.
Update: This story was updated at 1:45 p.m. on March 20 to reflect the information that the City Council pushed its bike share discussion from March to April.