A bike sharing program in downtown Nashville has taken its first step into the private sector. The downtown YMCA has inked a deal with B-Cycle to host a checkout center.
The first 20 racks and 190 bikes were funded by grant money from the Centers for Disease Control. The plan now is to privately fund another 20 or 30 at the cost of roughly $30,000 a piece.
YMCA vice president Ted Cornelius calls it a good investment to promote healthy lifestyles:
“It’s going to take the YMCA, it’s going to take other businesses to jump in and say, you know what, we’re so committed to this, that we want to invest a certain amount in order to get user-ship going,” Cornelius says. “Over time, it’s going to be self-sustaining.”
The idea is to have enough locations that people could grab a bike and know they have a place to drop it off where they’re going.
“It was designed to effectively make us healthier,” says Tom Turner, head of the Nashville Downtown Partnership, which oversees the program. “They’re designed to get you moving on a regular basis throughout the day.”
The company behind B-Cycle is based in Wisconsin and has programs in more than a dozen cities.
With the five new bikes on the downtown Nashville YMCA rack, there are 195 bikes in circulation at this point. To use the heavy-duty red cruisers, someone has to purchase a membership, – $5 for a day, $50 for a year. The first hour is then free and $1.50 for each half hour after that. A lost bike would set a user back more than $1,200.
So far there have been 14,000 rides, with the heaviest volume coming on the weekends. Users who’ve uploaded photos on Instagram seem to be biking more for pleasure than for commuting.
Have you used Nashville B-Cycle? Share you experience in the comments. At Thursday’s ribbon cutting, Nashville Mayor Karl Dean said a staffer often rides from the courthouse to meetings and then walks back to avoid pedaling up hill. What about you?
Katie Darby contributed to this post.