Bike share picking up speed downtown

Bike share picking up speed downtown

March 31st, 2013 by Cliff Hightower in Fyi2013

Jeremy Pomp is general manager of Bike Chattanooga. This rack of bicycles in front of the Chattanooga Choo Choo on Market Street is one of 30 stations across downtown where bikes may be rented.

Photo by Jake Daniels/Times Free Press.

BY THE NUMBERS

12,600: Rides in first six months of the Bike Share program

400: Members in 2012

$75: Membership cost

Source: Bike Chattanooga

Stephen Spalding became an annual member of Bike Chattanooga before it even started.

As a beta tester, he began driving to Finley Stadium every day to park, then riding a bike the rest of the way to work at TVA. He continues to do it to this day.

"It's less to pay than one month parking downtown," he says.

The bike share program that began early last fall is growing, and more riders are expected this summer, according to Philip Pugliese, Chattanooga's bicycle coordinator.

"We expect it to be very busy," he says. "At the end of the tourist season, it started picking up."

Bike Chattanooga also is looking at expanding its footprint and putting more bicycle stations on the Riverwalk, he says.

Currently, there are 300 bikes at 30 stations across downtown. Bike Chattanooga will start a marketing push this spring to try to get more riders.

"Everyone who has gone on a ride typically has had a good experience," Pugliese says.

Spalding says he had some minor problems with the system, but for the most part it has been bug-free.

And it saves him money. He says it would cost $80 a month to park downtown in a lot, but he pays $75 a year for the annual fee.

Brent Johnson, another TVA employee, also parks at Finley Stadium and rides to work. He lives in North Chattanooga and says he "lives, works and plays" downtown.

"Anytime I'm downtown, it's convenient to get from A to Z," he says.

Contact staff writer Cliff Hightower at chightower@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6480.