Austin now has a bike-sharing service called Austin B-cycle. In December, eleven stations opened in downtown and along South Congress Avenue, and more stations have been added since then. The service is expanding to the UT campus and to East Austin this month.
B-cycle annual memberships, weekly passes, and day passes can be purchased. The first 30 minutes are free, and then additional time is charged at $4 per 30 minutes. The idea is that you ride the bike to your destination and park your bike at another station until you are ready to return or to go somewhere else. Each station has room for about a dozen bikes. I have read that some bike-sharing services in other cities have distribution problems and sometimes bikes get “stuck” at one station. I’ve seen B-cycle occasionally delivering bikes to the City Hall station, so hopefully the company has anticipated that problem.
Some people—mostly tourists, I think—used the bikes during the nice weather over the Christmas holidays. It’s fun to see the shiny, red retro bikes tooling along the Hike-and-Bike Trail. It is less fun, and a little dangerous, to dodge bikers riding on the downtown sidewalks. Technically, bikes are not permitted on most of the sidewalks around us. But visitors would not know that, and this law doesn’t seem to be enforced anyhow.
Bill and I haven’t tried the bikes yet. They look comfortable to ride, and the big front baskets should be handy for a quick trip over to the Lamar Whole Foods. We will be curious to see how popular B-cycle is when winter is over here (any day now would be fine with us).