The B-Cycle system’s 29th station was christened earlier this month in front of Clayton Homes. Officials said they hoped to provide new customers for bike-sharing and new opportunities for low-income families.
“The more you use the bikes, the more excited you become,” said Tory Gunsolley, president of the Houston Housing Authority.
In many U.S. cities, bike-sharing has become popular mainly among people who choose to bike for recreation. Critics say bike-sharing hasn’t reached low-income neighborhoods, however.
Houston’s build-out didn’t push into poorer neighborhoods, but it didn’t start in wealthy enclaves either. From three downtown stations, the system pushed south and west into Midtown, Montrose and the Museum District. It subsequently spread to the Heights, Eado and the Northside.
Houston will put B-Cycle kiosks where it can, when it can, as corporate partnerships and funding allow, said Houston Sustainability Director Laura Spanjian. She said having stations at the University of Houston, Rice University and Texas Southern University will be the next important steps.
“We want to double and triple this program and I know that we can do that,” Spanjian said.
Connecting the bikes with communities that need transportation is part of the strategy, Gunsolley and Houston B-Cycle director Will Rub said. The bikes could be an asset for people who need to travel a few blocks and don’t want to wait for a bus or ask someone for a ride.
Use of a kiosk near Project Row Houses, a Third Ward arts group, has been brisk, said Assata Richards, community liaison for the group.
“They use it to go to the grocery store, they use it to get around the neighborhood,” Richards said.
Looks to me like the Project Row kiosk is a short ride away from the planned Southeast Line station at Elgin and Scott. That will be an excellent location for future kiosk, since it will make the Southeast Line more accessible to these folks. If the Universities Line ever gets built, a kiosk by the TSU station, at the west end of campus, would serve a similar purpose, just on a much farther out timeline. You know me, I’m all about linking bikes to transit. Two connected networks are better than two separate networks. There’s already a kiosk near the Dynamo Stadium light rail stop, which is the nearest neighbor to the Runnels location, so it’s already networked.
Ridership of Houston’s bike-sharing system, Texas’ first, continues to grow. After a quick expansion from three to 27 kiosks in less than a year, ridership jumped. Use peaked in July with 7,225 checkouts but fell to 4,053 the following month before rebounding slightly.
“The heat in August had an impact on the leisure riders primarily and the cold and wet weather in late November had a similar impact,” Rub said in an email.
I have not used my B-Cycle membership as much as I would have liked. My plan was mostly to use it during lunchtime to expand my dining options and also possibly for certain types of errands. I have done those things, just not very often. One obstacle that I haven’t figured out how to overcome is the helmet. I don’t like riding without one, so I have to plan to bring my helmet with me to the office if I plan to ride later. That has its own logistical issues, as I’m sure you can imagine. I do want to ride more as the weather warms up, so I need to get that sorted out.