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From the Street: Active Trans Alliance: Bike sharing will create ‘vibrant’ Loop

Fri, May 25, 2012

The Active Transportation Alliance applauds the Chicago Department of Transportation (CDOT) for its announcement on March 14 of a private vendor to manage the city’s bike-sharing program, bringing this transformative new transportation option one step closer to reality.

The ordinance is an agreement with Portland, Oregon-based Alta Bicycle Share, Inc. to operate Chicago’s first large-scale bike-sharing program, which is envisioned as a new, affordable option to complement existing transportation choices.

“Chicago’s new bike-sharing program will be a significant new asset toward creating a vibrant, flourishing Loop where people live, work and play,” said Ty Tabing, executive director of the Chicago Loop Alliance. “Chicago Loop Alliance members are excited to embrace the City of Chicago’s bike-sharing program as a great amenity that makes it more enjoyable to spend time in the Loop.”

Bike-sharing programs in other U.S. cities and around the world have been widely successful because they offer a safe, convenient and affordable option for getting around town. Bike sharing has quickly become an essential part of everyday life in cities like Minneapolis and Washington D.C. because it is easy to use and a perfect fit for everyday life in the city.

Bike sharing makes it easier to get from a train station to a place of business, explore the city, go to a meeting, check out a new lunch spot and run errands.

“Chicago is going to offer one of the top bike sharing programs in the world, and one of the largest in the United States,” Mayor Rahm Emanuel said. “Alta and their partner Public Bike System Company are the global leaders in bike sharing programs, and will set up and operate the new system that will be a key part of achieving our goal of making Chicago a world-class city for bicycling.”

The Chicago Department of Transportation (CDOT) issued a request for proposals in September 2011 seeking a company to operate what will be one of the country’s largest bike-sharing programs. The RFP called for a system to include 3,000 bikes and 300 docking stations this year, with an additional 1,000 bikes and 100 stations in the following 12 months. A TIGER grant was awarded by USDOT this year to fund the phase 2 expansion in 2013. The program will be self-sustaining through member and user fees, as well as advertising and sponsorship.

Alta and its equipment manufacturer Public Bike System Company currently have bike share systems in London; Melbourne; Boston; Minneapolis; Washington DC; Montreal; Toronto; and Ottawa. The company is also launching service this year in New York City and Chattanooga, Tennessee.

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