Charlotte’s bike share program is about to get a lot bigger.
The city will accept nearly $1.7 million in federal money to nearly double the size of the Charlotte B-cycle program, which plans to add an additional 25 stations to the 26 its currently manages
The decision to accept the money, which got a nod from City Council Monday night, comes as other bike-share companies are moving into Charlotte with colorful bicycles. B-cycle, with launched in 2012, is the city’s largest.
A city of bikes
At a Center City Partners board meeting last week, President and CEO Michael Smith said two other bike-share programs recently dropped of about 250 bicycles each at various points around the city. They are approved to operate double that number
“We want to be a city of bikes,” he said. “That’s the vision.”
Bike-share programs have become popular in some of America’s larger and more progressive cities, where residents tend to be more concerned about the environment and traffic effects of automobile traffic.
Of the $1.7 million the city will get from the feds, $1 million will be in the form of a Congestion Mitigation Air Quality (CMAQ) grant. The other $675,000 will be a grant from the Transportation Alternatives Program (TAP). Both programs are run by the federal Transportation Department.
With about 214 bikes at docking stations around Charlotte, the B-cycle program is one of the largest bike-sharing systems in the Southeast. Ridership has grown from almost 34,000 trips in 2013 to more than 56,000 trips in 2016, according to the city.
City taxpayers will cover the costs of staff support as the city works with Charlotte B-cycle to identify and build expansion locations.
The CMAQ grant requires a 22 percent local match, and the TAP grant requires a 20 percent local match. Charlotte B-cycle will pay the $450,801 in matching funds while operating and maintaining all B-cycle stations at no cost to taxpayers, the city said.