Saturday, November 18, 2017
News Roundup

St. Petersburg starts pedaling toward bike share partnership

RECOMMENDED READING


ST. PETERSBURG — It took three attempts, but a bike share program appears to be cruising toward reality in St. Petersburg.

In a non-binding vote, six City Council members signaled Thursday they supported Mayor Rick Kriseman's $1.5 million bike share proposal. They left open the question of how to pay for it.

The City Council should take a final vote in April if negotiations go as expected with CycleHop, which already runs Tampa's program.

If the council approves the final deal, the rental bikes could be available to residents and tourists by the fall.

Kriseman said the council's action was encouraging.

"It's an important piece of the transportation puzzle we're trying to cobble together, and it would be great for residents and for tourists," he said.

It hasn't been easy. When the mayor included $1 million toward the $1.5 million total cost of a bike share in his list of how to divvy up $6.5 million in BP funds from a settlement over the 2010 Deepwater Horizon spill, the council balked in October.

Many council members wanted to dedicate all the money to fix the city's aging sewer system, which had been overwhelmed by torrential rains last summer forcing more than 30 million gallons of partially treated or untreated sewage into Boca Ciega and Tampa bays.

In January, the council still wasn't sold on the value of a bike share program.

But, over time, the council's attitude toward the BP money has softened. They agreed to spend $250,000 on a marine research vessel and $350,000 on a pilot ferry project to Tampa.

Yet it's still not clear that the $500,000 of BP money that Kriseman now is proposing to use for the bike share will gain council approval.

At Thursday's City Hall workshop, council member Jim Kennedy suggested splitting the costs of the program between parking revenue and impact fees paid by developers.

Kennedy said he wanted to keep the BP money in reserve until a scheduled March discussion on how to spend the settlement windfall.

Council member Darden Rice, who has been a steadfast supporter of the idea, said she was "agnostic" where the money came from, as long as the city moved forward.

Most council members seemed satisfied with the description of the program, which would start with 300 bikes scattered among 30 stations, mostly in downtown and along Central Avenue.

The city would own the bikes. CycleHop would repair them, market the service and handle liability issues.

If enough people take to the bikes, which would cost a prorated $8 per hour or up to $20 with a monthly pass (allowing 90 minutes of free riding daily), the city hopes to expand the program's reach.

An annual $79 membership also would be offered, said Eric Trull, a CycleHop representative.

The lone member to vote against the proposal, Steve Kornell, said he didn't oppose bike share in principle but believed the city had greater transportation priorities, like widening bike lanes and improving bus service. He also questioned whether the program would benefit southern and western neighborhoods.

In Tampa, the program has been a success with most of the riders in the first months of the program opting for one-day memberships. Tampa didn't have to pay any start-up costs as it was selected to be a test city by the vendor, which goes by the name Coast Bike Share there.

Since prices were tweaked in late 2015, the number of Tampa's monthly members has tripled, Trull said.

Contact Charlie Frago at [email protected] or (727) 893-8459. [email protected] Frago.

Comments

Updated: 2 hours ago
Lightning finds its game too late, loses to Islanders

Lightning finds its game too late, loses to Islanders

TAMPA — The firepower showed up in the third period.Yanni Gourde and Ondrej Palat scored 13 seconds apart. Gourde scored again.Suddenly it was a one-goal game, and the Lightning appeared on its way to one of those comeback wins that would be remember...
Updated: 3 hours ago
No. 14 UCF rolls Temple 45-19, heads to War on I-4 unbeaten

No. 14 UCF rolls Temple 45-19, heads to War on I-4 unbeaten

PHILADELPHIA — There were so many reasons for UCF coach Scott Frost to worry about his team’s focus. With a huge game against USF looming, playing an improving Temple team in a stadium where the empty seats outnumbered the filled ones by about a 3-1 ...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Gerald McCoy to Ndamukong Suh: ‘Let them remember us’

Gerald McCoy to Ndamukong Suh: ‘Let them remember us’

TAMPA — In the spring of 2010, one of the biggest debates during the week leading up to the NFL draft was which defensive tackle would be selected first: Nebraska’s Ndamukong Suh or Oklahoma’s Gerald McCoy.Both figured to be highly productive NFL pla...
Updated: 4 hours ago
No. 2 Miami finishes on 30-0 run, tops Virginia 44-28

No. 2 Miami finishes on 30-0 run, tops Virginia 44-28

MIAMI — After Miami clinched the first Atlantic Coast Conference Coastal Division crown in program history, upset the then-No. 3 team in the country, claimed one of the top four spots in the College Football Playoff rankings and after many of the nat...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Bucs’ belief in Jameis Winston has been shaken

Bucs’ belief in Jameis Winston has been shaken

TAMPA — Belief is the biggest attribute a quarterback can bring to his team. Belief in his talent. Belief in his commitment to winning. Belief in his ability to bring everyone together and have his voice lead the path forward.But the belief the Bucs ...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Topkin: As Rays start dealing, how far will they go?

Topkin: As Rays start dealing, how far will they go?

After collecting intelligence at last week’s GM meetings, the Rays soon will launch their offseason mission of trading at least a couple of veterans to reduce payroll.The question is how far they will go — how many players they deal, and how big of n...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Bucs-Dolphins: Things to watch in Sunday’s 1 p.m. game

Bucs-Dolphins: Things to watch in Sunday’s 1 p.m. game

TAMPA — Can the Bucs pull off back-to-back wins with a backup quarterback? Win a game on the road for the first time this season? Politely hand the unnamed trophy for the state’s worst football team back to the Dolphins?With WR Mike Evans back from h...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Florida State routs Delaware State 77-6

Florida State routs Delaware State 77-6

TALLAHASSEE — Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher longed for his team to play in this type of game throughout its disappointing season.After Hurricane Irma caused a three-week layoff between FSU’s first two games, forcing it to play 11 in a row to finis...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Senate ethics, relatively silent, could face busy year

Senate ethics, relatively silent, could face busy year

WASHINGTON — It’s been nearly six years since the Senate Ethics Committee conducted a major investigation of a sitting senator. Next year, the panel could be working nonstop, deciding the fate of up to three lawmakers, including two facing allegation...
Updated: 4 hours ago