Pensacola is on the verge of becoming one of the first cities on the Gulf Coast to offer a bicycle sharing program to make it easier for people to get around on two wheels.
By next spring, a bike sharing program is on track to launch in downtown Pensacola and Pensacola Beach with a minimum 200-bike, short-term rental network.
Bantam Strategy Group said it is working to bring a fleet of BCycle Dash Smart Bikes to America’s First Settlement by March 2018 to coincide with the launch of the Pensacola Bay Ferry system. The company, which designs, implements, and operates bike share programs across the Southeast, is leading the initiative to launch the program in Pensacola.
“We’re looking at starting a bike share program in downtown Pensacola and Pensacola Beach with a minimum of 200 bikes and 20 stations,” said Lindsey West, CEO of Bantam Strategy Group. “This is really meant to provide an alternate means of transportation for locals and visitors to explore downtown and Pensacola Beach.”
West said her company began working on the plans for the bike share program in July 2016 after the West Florida Regional Planning Council completed a feasibility study of launching a similar program downtown.
“I think it will work really well,” West said. “We have got lots of traction and this is the right time for downtown Pensacola. We have had meetings with local stakeholders and the business community and have seen overwhelming support in making it happen.”
West said they are close to selecting a vendor to operate the program but that it will feature the newest line of bicycles by BCycle, one of the world’s largest bike share companies, which currently operates in more than 45 cities and has more than 10,200 bikes on the ground in North and South America. The company is owned by bicycle manufacturer Trek.
The “smart bikes” are equipped with a touch-screen GPS display for route recommendations and turn-by-turn directions.
“These bikes are perfect for the historic streets of downtown Pensacola,” West said. “They’re designed to also hold up in the warm salt air and make it easier to get around.”
The program is expected to operate from a combination of revenue sources, primarily through membership revenue and corporate sponsorship of the bikes. West said a small, one-time investment could also be made by local government entities interested in supporting the program.
“There could be a small ask from local government that could be a one-time investment to show the city is behind it,” West said.
Once launched, the bike share users can rent a bike at one station and return it to any other station either in downtown Pensacola or on Pensacola Beach.
While final pricing for rentals of the bikes are still being finalized, the company said the average rates for membership options in similarly sized cities is $6 a day, $15 a month, or $75 for a year.