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South Florida’s second bike sharing program launches today, December 14th! After over a year of planning, permitting, bringing people on board with the concept, and even getting cities to pass new ordinances permitting advertising at their stations, B-Cycle is finally ready to roll out with 200 bikes and 20 stations. That number should expand to 275 within a month.

If you’re able, head to one of the launch events during the day.

Hollywood: 10:00 AM 326 Johnson St.
Fort Lauderdale: 1:30 PM Esplanade Park
Pompano Beach: 4:00 PM

Aquatic Center

B-Cycle is funded by a $311,000 FDOT grant funneled through Broward County Transit as well as their own capital. Outside of the one-time FDOT grant that will only go towards 75 of the bikes and a few stations, B-Cycle will be supported by ad revenues and user fees and expects to turn a profit. Their plan is to use that revenue to build out to a 500 bike system over a period of five years. While high profile Public-Private Partnerships (PPP’s) such as I-595 and the Port of Miami Tunnel get a lot of attention, it’s great to see the concept being put to use on a transportation mode that doesn’t involve a motor vehicle.

Usage is essentially membership based and then either free or $.50 for the first 30 minutes any bike is checked out. Memberships start at $5 for a 24 hour pass and go to $45 for an annual pass. The second half hour, and every half hour afterwards, costs more ($3) in order to encourage quick turnaround. You’re probably familiar with the concept if you’ve tried DecoBike or another program, but the idea is to pick up the bike at one location and leave it at another station at your destination. The trip often won’t take more than 20 minutes.

Some have raised concerns that B-Cycle might flounder because it is spread too thin over the county. Most of the stations are focused around downtown and the beach in the three launch cities, however, which should cater to the popular tourist and hangout spots. Check the map showing the stations launching tomorrow in blue at broward.bcycle.com. I’m confident it will be better than many small bike sharing systems, such as the self-proclaimed “first bicycle sharing program in the Southeast” in Spartanburg, South Carolina with 2 stations and about 15 bikes. Try bike sharing in Broward as soon as you can and judge for yourself. B-Cycle will have “ambassadors” at the stations today to show you how to use the system, even if you don’t make it to the launch events.

Disclaimer: I manage the FDOT grant, inherited from my predecessor. Of course, I’d love the project even if I didn’t, as it brings bike sharing closer to me. But don’t take this post to be any kind of official FDOT statement.

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The Florida Department of Transportation isn’t just anti-bicycling and walking road safety programs in Florida, they are against funding them anywhere.

On March 14, just days after bicycling advocates went to Congress asking them to not cut fundingfor bicycling programs (Bike Coalition Director and members among over 20 others from Florida, 600 countrywide) the State of Florida sent its own representative to tell Congress to do just the opposite.

Ananth Prasad, FDOT

Mr. Ananth Prasad is one of the three candidates up for Governor Rick Scott’s consideration as the new State Secretary for the Florida Department of Transportation. He currently holds the title of Assistant Secretary for Engineering & Operations, making him the only ‘in-house’ option. (The other two are Gordon Goodin, owner of Bayside Development, and Thomas Conrecode, VP at Collier Enterprise).

Mr. Prasad spoke on behalf of FDOT/ Governor Scott’s interests at a special hearing before the United States House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure. The Committee, chaired by Florida’s own Rep. John Mica, is drafting a new transportation bill and thus seeking input from stakeholders across the country. What did our own FDOT representative say? Read the full text of his speech here[PDF].

Some of the items Prasad touched on were clearly positive for Florida, such as his request for more transportation money for Florida, a ‘donor’ state that sends out more gas tax money than it gets back from the federal government. He called for increased investment in public-private partnerships , citing the I-595 Express project and the Port of Miami Tunnel as examples. While that may support Rick Scott’s call for more private sector jobs, there was no mention of the innovative public-private partnerships that would have come about from High Speed Rail or bikeshare.

Other requests clearly reflected Governor Scott’s agenda. Prasad supported Scott’s push for fewer regulations by calling for removal of some regulations that he called unnecessary for Florida and by requesting that states be allowed to skip the federal environmental review process and substitute their own. In the midst of calling for a reduction in the number of federal transportation programs, Prasad proclaimed:

We must give serious consideration to whether—when resources and dollars are at a premium—spending money on sidewalks, bike trails, beautification, and other projects like this is the most prudent use of taxpayer money.

Wow. Forget about the “Complete Streets” mandate embedded in Florida Statute that FDOT has to include pedestrian and bicycle facilities into their projects. Nevermind that new bicycling facilities create twice as many jobs as standard road repair work and make streets safer for ALL road users.The way to fuel the economy, according to FDOT, is to move cars faster:

“The faster we can move people and goods to their destination, the faster our economy will grow … We must be viligent to ensure that we invest only where taxpayers’ money will be put to use on critically-needed projects that will ultimately grow our economy.”

Prasad’s message is clear: Times are tough, so let’s forget about multimodal transportation and focus on automobile capacity. Congress needs to be reminded that as gas prices head toward $4 for the second time in three years, more people are choosing to bike or walk. This makes it critical to invest transportation dollars in safer roads for everyone, rather than just faster highways. (You will remember that FDOT considers Miami’s densest residential street and it’s busiest downtown avenue, highways.)

Florida: we cannot build our way out of congestion. We need a versatile transportation system that embraces intercity rail, urban transit, bicycling, and walking as well as the currently privileged modes.

If we can put aside the political agendas and focus on effective investment, we would see that non-highway options, like high speed rail and bikeshare, provide what Prasad says DOTs want: public-private partnerships. The Tampa-Orlando high speed rail was expected to turn a $10.2 million profit, a lucrative opportunity for private investment in infrastructure. DecoBike, a private enterprise which seems to have gotten off to a good start, has not cost the city of Miami Beach a dime and is even sharing revenue with them. B-Cycle‘s proposed system for Broward County won’t cost taxpayers any money once it’s up and running, and their business model depends on turning a profit from the system as well. FDOT is already involved in this public-private partnership, fronting the capital through a grant to the county, then leaving the private vendor to run the system. Florida can support systems such as these by providing both capital investment to get the systems started and by providing proper infrastructure to encourage more system users. Check out the Sun-Sentinel article for more details on both programs.

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The South Florida Bike Coalition joins us in urging you to take action. Members of CongressGovernor ScottFDOT need to hear from you that you want cost-effective solutions to Florida’s #1 ranking as the Country’s most dangerous place to walk or ride a bicycle.

Also: Please take a moment to contact Rep. Mica — his staff on transportation — or his office via phone at (202) 225-4035. Let him know that you want Complete Streets in the next transportation bill and that you support federal mandates that ensure investments in our roads will make them safer and better for EVERYone, whether they travel by bicycle, train, bus, car, truck or on foot.

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This will be a cross-post with our partner, the South Florida Bike Coalition.

 

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If you haven’t heard, Denver launched their B-Cycle Bicycle Sharing program last week, on Earth Day. They have about 400 bicycles at 40 stations around the city. It would be great to get something like that down this way, right?

Turns out South Florida is not far behind. This morning a selection commitee met to rank companies to implement a bicycle sharing program for Broward County. B-Cycle, a partnership between Trek Bicycles and Humana, got the top ranking. Their proposal is to provide at least 200 bicycles with 18 stations in downtowns, beaches, and transit hubs in Fort Lauderdale, Hollywood Beach, and Pompano Beach areas. The system could grow to potentially 575 bicycles with 52 stations in five years. The contract still needs to be negotiated and approved, but this project is exciting for the future of bicycling in this area. B-Cycle hopes to get a system installed within six months of signing a contract, so if we keep our fingers crossed we might have a bicycle sharing program in place by the end of this year. Hit up the gallery for B-Cycle’s renderings of potential bicycle sharing at key locations.

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As we mentioned back in January, it seems B-cycle is coming to Miami Beach. If you peruse their site, you will find that they are actively lobbying other cities to accept their low-cost, high benefit system of public transportation. We called attention to this months back, and it seems many of you voted for your own city in South Florida. Let this post serve as a reminder to let B-Cycle know you and your city are interested in their services.

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The Port Tunnel Project  may not be completely dead…yet.

Miami Beach to get bicycle sharing?! Rydel over at Bike Miami Scene thinks so.  Check out the sexy B-Cycle system and go vote for your city here:

Shall we call them FDOR? Florida PIRG bashes FDOT for their $7 billion stimulus request…1 percent of which includes funding transit. Worse still, 90 percent is slated for new highways, and existing highway EXPANSION. Clearly, the “T” in FDOT stands solely for Roads, and nothing else.

If this general trend upsets you, sign Transportation for America’s latest petition for change.

According to Streetsblog, Massachusetts is bucking similar DOT stimulus trends by asking for more transit funding than roadway funding…and $18 million for bicycle and pedestrian improvements. Go Mass, go.

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