**UPDATE** Bikeshare Planning Study briefing Jan. 13 at Tacoma City Hall

Local cycling enthusiasts might want to attend a public meeting on Wednesday at Tacoma City Hall as City of Tacoma staff are scheduled to update Tacoma City Council’s Infrastructure, Planning, and Sustainability Committee on the efforts under way to create a bikeshare program in Tacoma.

Bikeshare programs allow people to check out bicycles for short trips around the city. In October of 2014, the City of Seattle partnered with the non-profit organization Pronto Cycle Share to introduce a bikeshare system that includes 500 bikes and 50 stations throughout the city. Similar programs have been launched in at least two-dozen U.S. cities, including Washington, D.C.; Austin, Tex.; Boston, Mass.; Denver, Colo.; and New York City.

The City of Tacoma’s 2010 Mobility Master Plan—which is designed to develop a comprehensive network of bikeways and pedestrian walkways citywide—includes a bikeshare program that aims to enhance the city’s transportation network and make cycling a more viable option for all.

The City of Tacoma issued a Request For Proposals (RFP) in September seeking consultants to complete a feasibility study for a bikeshare program. In Seattle (pictured), a similar programs exists. (PHOTO BY MAGGIE LEE)

The City of Tacoma issued a Request For Proposals (RFP) in September seeking consultants to complete a feasibility study for a bikeshare program. In Seattle (pictured), a similar programs exists. (PHOTO BY MAGGIE LEE)

Two years ago, the City of Tacoma hired the consulting firm Alta Planning to analyze the feasibility of a bikeshare program in Tacoma.

Last year, the City of Tacoma issued a Request For Proposals (RFP) seeking consultants to complete a more comprehensive Tacoma Bikeshare Planning Study, according to a legal notice published in the Tacoma Daily Index in September. The RFP prepared by City of Tacoma staff noted the $60,000 Tacoma Bikeshare Planning Study will include recommendations on bikeshare system types and a variety of technologies that best fit Tacoma’s market, topography, culture and destinations; evaluate whether the existing Mobility Master Plan supports the development of a bikeshare program, or if modifications are needed. If modifications are needed, the study will include recommended changes to the Mobility Master Plan; and provide innovative solutions to Tacoma’s current and future assets and challenges, including possible pilot programs or phasing implementation.

Tacoma City Council’s Infrastructure, Planning, and Sustainability Committee is scheduled to be updated on the Tacoma Bikeshare Planning Study during a public meeting at 4:15 p.m. on Weds., Jan. 13, at Tacoma City Hall, located at 747 Market St., Room 16, in downtown Tacoma. Copies of the agenda and staff memo are available online here and here, respectively.

UPDATE | THURS., JAN. 14 @ 3 P.M. – Here is the slideshow presentation from this week’s meeting:

UPDATE | TUES., JAN. 19 @ 2:10 P.M. — City of Tacoma Assistant Division Manager (Environmental Services) Jim Parvey and City of Tacoma Active Transportation Coordinator Diane Wiatr discussed the Tacoma Bikeshare Planning Study under way during Tacoma City Council’s Infrastructure, Planning, and Sustainability Committee meeting on Weds., Jan. 13, at Tacoma City Hall. An audio recording of the meeting is available online here. A slideshow presentation from the meeting is available here (and posted above). Here are some notes / highlights from the meeting:

  • Alta Planning completed a preliminary feasibility study in 2014-2015 for a bikeshare program in Tacoma. Toole Design Group was selected for a $60,000 contract to complete a more in-depth Tacoma Bikeshare Planning Study.
  • Diane Wiatr: “Bikeshare is not always successful. You have to go through an intensive feasibility study to make sure it is going to work in your jurisdiction. The more user-friendly the bike network is, the more utilized the system will be. If you have cycle tracks or trails, there’s greater likelihood of utilization.”
  • Jim Parvey: “Bikeshare is really an idea of providing bikes in convenient or strategic locations to increase people’s mobility throughout the city . . . . [The Tacoma Bikeshare Planning Study is] not just doing a feasibility study. It’s doing a pilot study. One of the things we’re likely to deal with is that we may not be ready for a bikeshare system at this point. So part of the study will be looking at our bicycle infrastructure and Mobility Master Plan to see if there are changes that need to be made to that plan to start building the more fundamental infrastructure changes to support bikeshare in the future.”
  • Part of the study will involve determining which bikeshare technology would work best for Tacoma: bike docking stations along sidewalks, plazas, and/or on-street parking spaces; smart bikes that have the technology (GPS, locking devices, etc.) already built in and require fewer docking stations; or bike rental kiosks.
  • Diane Wiatr: “[Bike docking stations] replace on-street parking. As we all know, any time there is on-street parking taken away, there are questions by the community and businesses. However, generally speaking you can have twelve bikeshare bikes in the place you would have one car, and it does replace a lot of car trips and ends up using that space well.”
  • Bikeshare programs work well when paired with high-density areas, transit centers, and places with lots of tourists. Potential bikeshare stations include Point Defiance Park, Ruston Way, and downtown Tacoma.
  • Diane Wiatr: “[Washington] D.C. has the most successful bikeshare system in the United States because of the huge number of tourists and visitors. In Tacoma, we have tourists here, but we don’t have tourism like D.C. does . . . . Point Defiance Park is our largest single bicycle attractor in the city largely because of Five Mile Drive. Not only is it beautiful, but it’s closed to cars for a couple hours per day and on the weekends, and it’s a very, very popular place for cyclists.”
  • Jim Parvey: “Most of the systems are in bigger cities than ours, or denser areas than ours, so there are some challenges specific to Tacoma in implementing this. One is the geography, we have a very hilly downtown area, which is also the densest area, so there are some challenges we need to work around.”
  • Diane Wiatr: “Most bikeshare systems are funded by Fortune 500 companies. Citibank [in New York City]. Alaska Airlines in Seattle. Nike in Portland. One of the possible funding challenges here is that we don’t have so many Fortune 500 companies to sponsor them, but that’s not insurmountable.”
  • Between January and March, City staff and Toole Design Group representatives will conduct public outreach this includes workshops, online crowd-sourcing map and survey, and presentations to business districts and neighborhood councils.
  • The City of Tacoma is planning to hold a public meeting on Thurs., Feb. 25, at The Evergreen State College campus in Tacoma.
  • City staff and Toole Design Group representatives will attend the South Sound Sustainability Expo in March to discuss the Tacoma Bikeshare Planning Study.
  • Tacoma City Council will be briefed on the study’s findings during a study session in April.

To read the Tacoma Daily Index‘s complete and comprehensive coverage of the Tacoma Bikeshare Planning Study, click on the following links:

To read the Tacoma Daily Indexs complete and comprehensive coverage of the City of Tacoma’s Mobility Master Plan, click on the following links: