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The staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Pinellas County is exploring bike share options and wants your feedback



The city of Tampa's has rolled past the 100,000-mile mark. St. Petersburg's will be up and running soon. Now Pinellas County officials want to get in on the bike share action.

The county's Metropolitan Planning Organization is studying the idea of bringing bike share to Pinellas and is seeking input from residents and officials in the county's cities. (To fill out a survey yourself, go here Deadline is Nov. 13.) The goal is to have a report to the MPO board by early next year that would outline some options to make it happen, said Rodney Chatman, the MPO's planning manager.

"We see our report as laying the foundation and if local governments are interested, then we'd lay out a road map to get them to establish their own programs," Chatman said. Or, he said, it could be a seamless countywide program.

The MPO had created a subcommittee of its Bicycle Pedestrian Advisory Committee to tackle the task and is currently working on GIS analyses to map out areas where bike share could work. Think dense population centers with good grid networks, such as downtown areas and college campuses, Chatman said.  

Some examples include downtown Clearwater, Safety Harbor, Dunedin and Oldsmar, as well as the gulf beach cities. Another likely location: the 47-mile Pinellas Trail. 

Bike share programs are exploding throughout the country and in several cities in Florida, and Chatman pointed south for a potential model for Pinellas. Broward County's B-Cycle launched in 2011 -- reportedly the first countywide bike share program in the country -- and now offers 275 bicycles at 22 stations in 6 cities, according to its website.

County Commissioner and MPO board member Karen Seel asked MPO staff earlier this year to look into a program for Pinellas.

"I've used bike share across the U.S. and I just find it to be a really great tourism attraction and a fun way to get around," she said. 

Seel said the effort should consider -- and perhaps work in conjunction with -- private vendors that already offer bike rentals throughout the county.

"Maybe we talk to companies and see if there are gaps and put together a coalition to publicize what we have and fill in those gaps," Seel said.

Members of Tampa's Coast Bicycle program logged nearly 106,000 miles in its first 10 months. St. Petersburg is expected to pick a winning bid from among two companies this week. The city has vowed to make sure its program is accessible to poorer residents.

[Last modified: Tuesday, November 3, 2015 3:52pm]


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