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Kriseman's latest pitch for bike share program fails to persuade City Council



Mayor Rick Kriseman halved his ask to bring a bike share program to St. Pete on Thursday.

But $500,000 was still too much for the City Council, which greeted the mayor's latest attempt with a distinct chill, chiding his staff for not providing information before the meeting and questioning the business viability of the city owning 300 bikes for tourists, daytrippes and last-mile commuters to ply the city's streets for a monthly or one-time rental fee.

Back in October, Kriseman rallied supporters and unveiled a with list of how to spend $6.5 million in settlement money from BP from the 2010 Deepwater Horizon spill. Prominent on that list? $1 million for a bike share program.

Council members resisted, saying the city's aging sewer system needed funds for pipe repair to prevent another 31 million gallons of sewage from being dumped in Tampa and Boca Ciega bays. 

On Thursday, Kriseman tried again. His transportation officials and top economic development staffer Alan DeLisle laid out the case for a bike share program run by CycleHop, the same company that runs Tampa's program.

A bike share would lure Millennials, quality jobs and lower carbon emissions, they argued.

But council members remained unpersuaded. 

What happens if CycleHop walks away after the three-year contract? asked Jim Kennedy. What vendor would want to inherit a bunch of beat-up bikes?

Why aren't more routes heading south to Midtown? asked Lisa Wheeler-Brown.

Steve Kornell and Karl Nurse also raised questions about the proposal's financial viability and why it was a priority over other transit needs like improved trolley service.

DeLisle implored council members to meet the administration halfway.

"I mean we could come and ask for all of the money from BP, but you wouldn't want that. It works both ways, right?" DeLisle said.

But, after a protacted debate that left several bike share enthusiasts seemingly disheartened (one had laid plastic toy bikes by each council member's seat), the council agreed to meet again in a workshop for further discussion next month.

Kriseman's hope of council approval in February or March and a late summer soft launch looks extremely unlikely. 

That left DeLisle seemingly frustrated, noting that staff had met with each council member individually before the workshop and responded to their cou.

"We did exactly what we thought we should have done so please let me know as the admnistrator if you want something different," DeLisle said. "We have presented everything we possibly can."

That left council member Darden Rice, an unbridled supporter of bike share, to ask her colleagues to reconsider the expectations for the program. Nurse and Kornell had both mentioned narrow bike lanes and dangerous conditions for riders.

Better bike lanes are needed, but that shouldn't preclude implementing a bike share, she said.

"I don't think we should make it carry the burdens and shortcomings of our transit system," Rice said.


[Last modified: Thursday, January 28, 2016 7:27pm]


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