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.”