Salem may have bike-share program by spring 2017

Salem may have bike-share program by spring.

The state capital may become home to a bike-sharing program next Spring, a move that would allow riders to use bikes they don't have to house or own.

Evan and Jenna Osborne, of Salem nonprofit Osborne Adventures, are considering linking up with a national company, Zagster, to make bike-sharing available in the city’s downtown and waterfront areas.

Bike-sharing stations allow users to check out a bicycle for an allotted time and then return it. Bike-sharing in Salem would follow a similar operation that launched this year in Portland called Biketown, a joint bike-sharing effort between Nike and the City of Portland’s Bureau of Transportation and operated by bike-sharing company Motivate.

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The Osbornes, both healthcare workers, encountered bike-sharing programs in both their U.S. and overseas travels. The couple’s plan calls for 50 bikes at 10 spots around Salem, though other Zagster locations in Oregon each have less than 40 bikes.

But they need money to make it happen.

In anticipation of a mid-Spring opening, the Salem nonprofit has applied for city and state grants and recently sent out flyers to advertise tax-deductible sponsorships, with annual options that range from $250 to $10,000 each. Some of those options include getting a business' name on the bikes, an advertising incentive.

"They are basically a riding billboard for that company," said Evan Osborne.

Earlier this year, the city of Salem added bike lanes downtown on Church and High streets NE. Public Works spokesman Mike Gotterba said the city supports the bike-sharing idea. "We'll be happy to work with them when we see a proposal," he said.

Part of the nonprofit's pitch includes the trails that people can ride with the completion of the Peter Courtney Minto Island bridge, which workers should finish next year. Once it's open, it will connect more than 20 miles of trails, the Statesman Journal has reported.

As of April, there were about 100 U.S. cities with public bike-share services, said Susan Shaheen, a professor at the University of California Berkley, who studies bike-sharing. She cites statistics from Russell Meddin, who tracks bike-sharing, that say there were 32,200 bikes within those programs and 3,400 stations for them.

"Bikesharing is adaptable to the goals and needs of cities — large, medium, and small," Shaheen said in an email. "It can work in a wide-range of environments in part because bikes are easier to maintain and purchase than automobiles in shared models, for instance."

The programs have drawn interest from big-name companies.

Ford Motor Co., for instance, has gotten into the bike-sharing game in a partnership announced this fall with Motivate, which operates the Portland program and others around the country. "They fit into an emerging transportation system where people own vehicles but also share assets," Jim Hackett, chairman of Ford Smart Mobility LLC., recently told the Wall Street Journal.

Bike-sharing has apparently seen success in Fort Collins, Colo., where the city budget for the program that is responsible for Fort Collins Bike Share is expected to practically double from $256,080 in 2016 to more than $460,000 for 2017 and 2018, the Coloradoan reports.

Zagster has more than 140 posts around the United States, according to Jon Terbush, a communications manager for the company.

In Oregon, Zagster operates in Bend and Corvallis.

Started at the end of June, Pedal Corvallis was meant to make bikes more accessible to Medicaid clients in the area, though anyone 18 years or older can sign up for a membership, according to Tarah Campi, who is involved with the project.

Funding options for these kinds of programs vary.

In Corvallis, the program is mostly funded by the InterCommunity Health Network Coordinated Care Organization, the region's Medicaid provider, though there are other partners in the deal, too. As of last Wednesday, the program had 968 total trips, according to Campi, with 88 active members.

Terbush said talks for a Salem branch were still preliminary.

“It’s still up in the air,” he said.

The Osbornes haven't committed to working with Zagster, and are in talks with other entities, too. "We're still shopping around," said Evan Osborne.

Zagster started in 2007 with bike-share consulting, but within a few years moved into providing bike share services in the U.S. The company has outlets in businesses, college campuses, on real estate properties and in cities.

Send questions, comments or news tips to jbach@statesmanjournal.com or 503-399-6714. Follow him on Twitter @JonathanMBach.

 


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