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Set for 2017 launch, Raleigh's bike sharing program finally rolling downhill

Posted April 5

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— Five years after planners first proposed it, a bike sharing program is set to roll into the City of Oaks in 2017.

The Raleigh City Council in March approved a proposal to make 300 bikes available for short-term rental at 30 stations near downtown Raleigh and North Carolina State University.

The program would put Raleigh on a growing list of cities, including Charlotte and Washington, D.C., that are trying to become more bicycle friendly.

Susan Wilson, Raleigh's bicycle and pedestrian manager, says city officials want more people using bikes to get around.

"There is a lot going on in Raleigh, and bike share fits into that with our economic development, our tourism, our quality of life," she said. "It's impossible to build enough roads to accommodate enough people just in cars."

Wilson's office is busy figuring out the details of the program – where bikes will be available for rent and which vendors the city will use. She says bikes could be available for rent by the fall of 2017.

Evan Brigham, a cycling enthusiast, says he's ready to see more bikes in the downtown area. Brigham says he doesn't own a car or plan to buy one, so cycling and ride-sharing apps like Uber are how he gets around.

"I'm just excited that it's happening. There are a lot of people who could do it. I think a lot of people see barriers that aren't really there," he said.

According to the proposal, bikes would be free for the first half hour.

Each half hour after that would cost $4. Students would pay lower rates, Wilson says.

The city's bicycle and pedestrian office estimates the program will cost the city about $650,000 per year.

Wilson said she hopes rental revenue and private sponsorship deals will cover about two-thirds of that cost.

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