Free Bike Program Scaled Down

The Charlottesville Area Bicycling Alliance has simplified their free-bike plan for the town, asking the city for $5,000 to start it up. They plan to sprinkle 30 bright yellow bikes along East and West Main (their original plan was to have them in more locations around the city) for anybody to hop on and ride around. There are a number of similar programs around the country, though perhaps the most well-known programs are Portland’s Yellow Bike Project and Copenhagen Free City Cycle. If CHABA gets the funding that they need from City Council tonight, bicycles will be out there by next month. Jake Mooney has the story in today’s Progress.

4 Responses to “Free Bike Program Scaled Down”


  • I tried riding to work downtown a few times and came to the unfortunate conclusion that I’m too outta shape and there are too many darn hills in this town for it to be worth my while. Who wants to show up for work all sweaty and stinky?

    Anyway, even if this concept actually works (and I have serious doubts), I just don’t think Charlottesville is the right place in terms of geography. Too many hills! But then again, maybe I’m just a wimp.

  • Their primary focus right now is on the West Main Street corridor, which you may find a little more do-able. :) Biking up from Barracks Road involves a pretty heinous hill, and the same goes for coming up from Pantops.

    At least we’re not San Francisco!

  • I was glad to hear that DMB has given the yellow bike program $4500 that would have otherwise come out of tax revenue. The program may do well for those who are traveling between Downtown and the University. It is pretty flat and not too far. I suspect though, that most of those who would bike already own their own bikes. Some tourists will probably use them.

    The program will face two serious challenges. First, they’ll have to keep enough bikes available once they put them on the street and people start stealing them and secondly they’ll have to sustain the energy of the volunteers who are maintaining the bikes. They do need more bikes so if you still own a bike and don’t want it consider donating it.

    The problem of theft has been considerable in other places with similar programs. Some of the other programs feature locking racks with a card reader and a requirement that users register and obtain a card. In Singapore the bikes are equipped with GPS locators so that the bikes can be tracked and found if they are not returned to the racks.

    Kevin Cox

  • I’ve actually been riding my bike all over town for the past 9 or 10 years and have never owned a car simply because I don’t need it if I own a bike. (It saves me several hundred dollars a month, too.) I ride it to work, I ride it to friends’ houses, I ride it on errands (except for groceries, where I just go with my girlfriend in her compact), etc. I’m not really in shape, and it’d be nice if I didn’t have to go up and down all the hills, but they’re not bad at all and I don’t break much of a sweat. I think this is a great plan, and all the bike lanes that Maurice Cox got put in a few years ago are going to become much better appreciated if this goes through. It’s really nice being able to go down West Main and not have to worry about getting run off the road by all those students who don’t know how to drive the new Volvos their parents bought them.

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