Tampa bike-share program teaching ‘share the road’ lessons

Numbers are one way Coast Bike Share measures success: 100 days into Tampa’s new, downtown bike-sharing operation, ridership has exceeded expectations with 3,000 participants and 20,000 miles pedaled. “Anothermeasure of success for the city is the way the program is creating a bicycle-friendly atmosphere,” said Ali Glisson, the city’s public affairs director. “Bike share does something important for the city by just putting cyclists out on the road.”

Tampa and the region get low marks for bicycle safety and infrastructure in survey after survey. A new stretch of the Riverwalk opening Friday as well as the bike-share program are designed to improve on safety for riders downtown and beyond.”A lot of it is just now getting bikers familiar with bikers,” said Eric Trull, program director for Cyclehop, the company operating Tampa’s Coastal Bike Shares venture.

With so many bicyclists embracing the new program, motorists are learning more about how to share the road, Trull said. Cyclist safety is also a priority in the design of city transportation projects, including the expansion of Cass Street into two-way travel downtown, Glisson said. Bicycle lanes will be included. “One of the things we’ve noticed is that there is no good east-to-west travel for cyclists,” Glisson said.

Each Coastal Bike Share cycle has a GPS system that allows Cyclehop to track a rider’s trip. This has shown that hubs popular with pedestrian traffic, such as Hyde Park and Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park, are also popular with cyclists.In announcing the new numbers, Coast Bike Share noted that it has logged nearly 10,000 more miles pedaled than a similar program launched around the same time – Grid Share, in the much larger city of Phoenix.

The Tampa numbers put the operation on the road to profitability. Any losses are absorbved by the operator. “Our contract with the city specifically states that there is no taxpayer dollars involved,” Trull said. Cyclehop considers the bike share program a long-term investment in the city. “The biggest thing is just how well Coast has done with how the community has embraced it,” Glisson said.

Payment options for those using the bike-share program include per-ride and annual subscription. About 91 percent of the people using the system do so on a per-ride basis. But measured by miles traveled, annual members account for about 25 percent. “I see locals and visitors alike out on the blue bikes all the time,” Mayor Bob Buckhorn said in a news release, “and it’s great because it gives them a new way to enjoy their city.”