Bike Share in Lyon, France
Updated: BikesharePhilly is asking people to email the mayor through its website at www.bikesharephilly.org/takeaction
By Kellie Patrick Gates
Russell Meddin believes a flock of simple, human-powered machines could transform transportation in Philadelphia.
That’s because in a growing number of cities across the world and nation, residents, visitors and commuters can borrow a bicycle to get where they are going - and drop it off near their destination.
Meddin - a member of the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia and Philadelphia Urban Sustainability Forums - thinks a bike sharing program would work splendidly in William Penn's neighborhood-oriented, human scale, city. He became intrigued with the concept in the fall 2006, when his travels took him to a French city with a large program.
"I walked out of the railroad station in Lyon, and at the front door, there were bicycle stations," Meddin remembered. "The idea that you can get off the train, hop on a bike and go where you want to go - at virtually no cost - is absolutely phenomenal," he said. After being amazed, his next thought was, "We have to have this in Philadelphia."
In attempt to make that happen, the Bicycle Coalition, Urban Sustainability Forums, Academy of Natural Sciences and Philly Car Share sponsored a free bike sharing symposium this past Thursday, Jan. 17, at the Academy of Natural Sciences and over 400 people showed up on a snowy night.
"It rained, it snowed, it was not the best of evenings," Meddin said. "But we still filled the auditorium and put seats outside (in the hall) for people to watch on closed-circuit TV."
Hundreds of people rode their bikes to the event, despite the weather. "The mayor came, and I think him just coming out of his automobile and seeing all the bicycles on the sidewalk" helped the bike share cause, Meddin said.
Nutter told the audience that a bike share program could reduce congestion and pollution, foster good health and cut household transportation budgets.
He also sought input from Philadelphians. Earlier that day, his office created a special email account to take messages on bike share. Here is the link to the BikeShare Philadelphia campaign, including a letter to email to the address Michael Nutter set up to gauge citizen interest: .
It pleased Meddin to hear this, because to him, it shows city government is at least receptive to the idea. And while not all forms of bike share are government run, all require the support of government, at least in terms of permits.
highlights video from the event:
For more information, click here. Speakers included a city councilman from Lyon, and someone who helps run a small-scale recreational program in Pittsburgh.
"What we're hoping will happen in the forum is that everybody in Philadelphia will come and listen to these people, and when they leave, will want to tell everybody in city government that this is something we need to have in Philadelphia," Meddin said.
He estimates a program here, with all needed infrastructure, would cost about $10 million. There are several ways to fund these programs, some of which would cost the city nothing, but approvals and permits would still be needed, he said.
Thursday's public forum was followed on Friday by an invitation-only meeting for the movers and shakers, elected and otherwise, whose support would be vital to the effort, Meddin said.
Attendance at the second event was also higher than the expected 70 or so - 100 people showed up, including city council staff members, representatives from the city's streets department, parking authority and planning and commerce departments.
From Caroline Tiger at http://design-phan.squarespace.com/
"A citywide self-service bike-share program launched the day after Bastille Day, when I was in Paris. This is the Vélib ("velo" or "bike" + "liberté") station outside my hotel near the Rue de Rivoli. It's modeled on a similar scheme that has flourished in Lyon since 2005. At the same time, bike-sharing programs in other cities have floundered due to theft and vandalism. Think Philly could swing it?"
Bike share vehicles in Vancouver (click on photo to watch video)How Bike Share works in other cities