If all goes according to plan, come December people will be able to grab a shared bicycle and pedal their way across the Energy Corridor.
Microprocessor-controlled “Dash” smart bikes will be placed at five stations for the first phase of the Energy Corridor Bcycle program – the result of a partnership between the Energy Corridor District and Houston Bike Share.
Dash models are the latest form of shared bikes. Unlike downtown Houston’s Bcycle bikes, Dash versions are dockless and can be locked anywhere someone wants to travel. Each Dash bike features on-board GPS so Energy Corridor cyclists can see where available bikes are at any time by visiting a website or the Bcycle smartphone app.
Energy Corridor Bcycle members will be able to rent Bcycles in more than 25 cities. And Houston Bcycle members will be able to access these bikes, just as Energy Corridor Bcycle members can use the program to rent bicycles at stations near and around downtown Houston.
“What makes the Energy Corridor a great place for a bike share program? We have more than 50 miles of trails, lots of sidewalks, restaurants and retail up and down Eldridge Parkway and in Grisby Square,” explains Kelly Rector, TDM program manager for District. “We also have excellent access to METRO and its Addicks Park and Ride, plus a long history of promoting and implementing programs designed to encourage bicycling.”
Houston’s heat no deterrent
While bike share can help pay off the District’s master plan – with its vision to enhance and encourage alternative transportation – the growth of Houston’s Bcycle effort shows Houstonians use shared bikes.
Houston Bcycle started with 18 bikes at 3 stations in 2012. Now, its thousands of members can access 350 bikes at 46 stations. Interestingly, nearly 4,000 bike share checkouts came from Energy Corridor residents in just 16 months from January 2016 through April 2017.
For those wondering if bike sharing can work with Houston’s hot weather, temperatures have had little impact on the demand for shared bicycles, according to data collected here by Houston Bike Share, a nonprofit organization that manages the Houston Bcycle program.
“Energy Corridor Bcycle can help create a destination that encourages people to experience the District,” Rector explains. “It leverages our most valuable asset – our trails and parks – while complimenting existing transit services and planned ones like the Energy Corridor circulator. Bike share gives people here another mobility option; it’s ideal for short trips and errands, while providing for those first- and last-mile connections to public transit.”
And, says Rector, if Houston’s Bcycle effort is any indication, local business can benefit from increased sales as people explore the Energy Corridor District on bikes, stopping to take in the area’s dining and retail opportunities.
35-station system planned
Initially, a system of 20 Dash smart bikes will be available at five stations – many along Eldridge Parkway where Sunday Streets will close down lanes to motorists, opening up and afternoon of safe travel for cyclists and pedestrians. Stations will also be placed at Kendall Library, near the entrance to Terry Hershey Park and at Grisby Square, the home of West Houston’s iconic dining destination and the Energy Corridor Farmer’s Market.
Rector says the District eventually sees a network of up to 35 stations spread throughout the District. Many would provide easy access to METRO services.
Users can rent Energy Corridor Bcycles by using the Bcycle smartphone app, a website developed by the District or a Bcycle membership card. Users can access 24/7 customer service and a variety of payment options are accepted.
For more information about Bcycle, visit Bcycle.com.