City releases RFP for bike-share program in Atlanta

City officials want details from companies about setting up 500-bike program


Office drones, college students, and tourists who wish they could “check out” a bicycle from a corner kiosk for a few hours and pedal around Atlanta might soon get their wish.

City Hall wants to make at least 500 seven-speed bicycles available for the masses to rent, according to a much-anticipated Request for Proposals that City Hall officials released today. If implemented, Atlanta would join the ranks of cities around the world such as Boston, Washington, D.C., and Miami that make it easy for people to check out a bicycle for short periods of time.

Rebecca Serna of the Atlanta Bicycle Coalition says a successful bike-share program could encourage more people to ride bikes throughout the city.

“People who never thought they would ride a bike in the city find that it’s an easy way to go to lunch down the street or run an errand,” she says. “It builds in a social and physical element to your workday.”

Typically under bike-share programs, people sign up for an annual membership, which allows them to “rent” quality bicycles from kiosks strategically located around the city. When they’re finished using the bike, they can bring it back to any kiosk. In other cities, bikes are often GPS-enabled to discourage theft.

The concept, which has been under discussion among bicycling and transportation wonks for the last few years, received a big push after a study commissioned by the ABC and the Atlanta Falcons Youth Foundation. The report found that bike-share programs would first be feasible in neighborhoods such as Midtown, Downtown, West End, the Atlanta University Center, Inman Park, Old Fourth Ward, Little Five Points, Virginia-Highland, and Buckhead. Serna also says it could become one of the most inexpensive ways to travel around town. City officials say in the RFP that interested companies should give the study, which noted that bicycles should be accessible in many different parts of Atlanta, a close read. The nonprofit is now conducting an equity study and health impact assessement about bike-share programs.

The potential impact a successful bike-share program could have on the city is interesting to ponder. Not just in terms of getting people out of their cars (and those same cars off the road), but in how it could change the way the city looks. More people using bicycles could mean more investments in bike lanes and other facilities. It could create more vibrant streets. And, inevitably, spark more online battles between motorists and bicyclists and debates about helmet use. Which are all good debates to have!

But first we have to start a bike-share program. Want to compete? Head to City Hall on June 6 at 10 a.m. for a pre-proposal conference. Proposals are due by 1:59 p.m. on June 24.

After the jump, view the city’s RFP and ABC’s feasibility study.