City's bike-share program sees modest usage at start

Wednesday, November 3, 2010 at 7:29pm

An average of three bikes have been checked out daily through Nashville’s new bike-share program, which began in mid-August.

The numbers may not seem particularly impressive for a program that boasts 30 bicycles available at two locations, but organizers say figures are within projections.

“These ridership figures are in the mid-range of projections for the program,” said Toks Omishakin, bicycle and pedestrian coordinator for the mayor’s office. “The numbers are very good for such a new and unique program in Nashville.”

Two and a half months ago, Nashville became one of just a handful of cities nationwide to institute a bike-share program, with Shelby Bottoms Nature Center in East Nashville and Music City Star’s Riverfront Station becoming the rental centers for 30 cruiser-style bicycles that Davidson County residents can use for free. Federal stimulus dollars awarded by the U.S. Health and Human Services Department make up the bulk of its funding.

Officials see the first installment in August as a pilot program. Next year, 100 bicycles are expected to be available at 10 bike stations across the county. The stations will be solar-powered, and riders will be able to swipe cards to lock and unlock the bikes. 

In the interim, Metro workers are monitoring bike usage at Shelby Bottoms and Riverfront Park. According to Omishakin, the program has 150 members, and bikes were used 225 times between Aug. 13 and Oct. 29.

The bike-share program is set to close for the winter on Nov. 13 and will pick back up in March.

“We expect ridership numbers in the spring of 2011 to be even higher as people look to get active again in the outdoor environment,” Omishakin said.

The city didn’t budget any money for marketing or advertising the program. Omishakin said Metro has spread the word primarily through its website, www.nashvillebikeshare.com.

Omishakin said when the expanded bike-share program launches next year, the city plans to incorporate a broader marketing plan.

“This program is successful now, and we will see improvements in the coming months and years as more people learn about it and as our city becomes more accessible to bicycles,” Omishakin said. “As we expand our greenways system, on-road bikeway network, build more parks and improve public transit, we will see the demand and usage of a system like this go up.”

Filed under: City News

5 Comments on this post:

By: yaddayadda on 11/3/10 at 8:13

I tried using the bikes from downtown train station, and they are not in very good condition. Most had flat tires, and some were pretty beat up. Nobody seems to be maintaining them. Plus, they have foot brakes instead of hand brakes, which can make it dangerous if you're used to hand brakes. And it takes a while to check them out. You have to sign some paperwork, and then if there are tourists at the station, they will get waited on first. I doubt I'll use them again.

By: capt4chris on 11/3/10 at 10:54

I tried checking out bikes on 3 different Saturdays during the Summer and they were closed each time. I even sent an email through their website & never heard back! Very disappointing...

By: caluttc on 11/4/10 at 8:59

My experience was same as the other two comments. I saw the TV article w/the Mayor and tried to use the bikes yet no luck. I even talked to the Mayor's bike coordinator before going to ride and his info was very incorrect. Another one of this administraions big promo's that don't get follow-through---only visability and promo.
They are falling all over themselves to make Nashville into a "cosmopolitan" city. The hospitality industry has this adminstration by the throat and leading them in all directions. No citizen wants our city to have an image of being stale and outdated, yet we suburnites need to wake up and see that the "downtown crowd" is taking the city to a position that will leave a city for our children that is quite different form what we now love.

By: AmyLiorate on 11/4/10 at 11:26

When I first saw this I thought it sounded novel. But now I see what people who've actually tried out this service say. WOW

Government isn't designed to do silly things like this. Apparently it was just a marketing point from the Mayor to distract people from reality.

Question: If the city can't be there to fulfill the needs of a simple bike plan then why to we trust that bigger projects will go better? Just because they are bigger?

Wait, you say the bike service is new, it's only a tiny niche and has no budget. Well what does that say about the Music City Star? It's been around for years and looses tons of money. It's best day is still 33% below what was promised!

If your kid couldn't run a lemonade stand would you take out a bond or loan so they could run a convention center? Well that's what Nashville does and no one seems to really care.

By: localboy on 11/4/10 at 1:26

vroom vroom