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Austin B-Cycle coming

Took ‘em long enough.

Service will launch Dec. 21 with 110 bikes and 11 stations, including one sponsored by the Chronicle. The full project will be completed by March 1, 2014, with expanded stations planned to service the UT-Austin campus, Riverside Drive, Zilker Park, and East Austin.

These first locations were whittled down from the suggestions provided by Austinites over the summer. Voters were also able to choose the bicycle color, ultimately settling on red. The adjustable bikes will each be outfitted with front and rear lights, bells, and baskets. Day-to-day operation and maintenance will be handled by the Bike Share of Austin nonprofit.

Annual memberships for the service will be offered at $80, weekly passes at $25, and day passes at $8. Less frequent users can check out a bike for free for the first 30 minutes, but will be charged $4 for every half hour thereafter.

Huh. You get an hour for free in Houston. Not sure why the shorter time limit in Austin. Anyway, the Daily Texan adds some further detail.

“There are many top 10 lists we like being on, but being a top ranked city for traffic problems is a real concern,” city councilman Chris Riley said. “Traffic issues have a direct impact on the livability of our city, and it has become clear that to protect our quality of life, we need to provide more transportation options for our community.”

The program, which will include 400 bikes at 40 stations by March, does not currently offer a discount for University students, said Elliott McFadden, Austin B-Cycle executive director.

“We have not had any further discussion yet with the University of Texas about student pricing, so we won’t have anything on that for a while,” McFadden said.

Because the system’s stations are focused on the downtown area, Riley said he wants to increase its accessibility to students.

“I’d love to find ways to make the system more convenient for UT students,” Riley said. “We’ll be continuing to explore those possibilities, but in the meantime, for any UT student who wants to connect with the network, there will be stations not too far from [the University].”

[...]

The first 11 stations will be downtown along Congress as well as around the Convention Center and Whole Foods, McFadden said. The additional 29 stations are scheduled to be installed by March 1.

None of the initial 40 stations will be on campus, but there will be some stations on the Drag and possibly one near the Blanton Museum of Art, McFadden said.

This was announced in January. Integrating UT campus locations into their network should be a near-term goal. Unlike Houston, that campus is pretty close to downtown, so that should be doable. They may be able to install UT stations before Houston’s B-cycle gets stations at Rice or UH. Be that as it may, welcome aboard, Austin. Via Houston Tomorrow.

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