After years of planning, New Orleans is ready to join a growing number of cities around the globe with bicycle-sharing programs.
City officials released a request for proposals for such a system last week and hope to have the first phase of it completed by the second quarter of next year.
“The city of New Orleans is ready to support a bicycle-share system that meets resident, worker and visitor mobility needs,” Mayor Mitch Landrieu said. “This is an opportunity for a world-class partner to introduce and fund a transformational and equitable resource for our city.”
The idea is that the system would be entirely financed by a private operator, who would create bicycle docking hubs around “a significant portion of the city,” officials said, including areas adjacent to the Claiborne Avenue and biomedical district corridors.
Residents would pay to pick up a bike at one station and then would leave it at another.
Officials estimate that a minimum of 700 bicycles are needed. The city’s request for proposals asks that they be theft- and tamper-resistant and equipped with front and rear lights, racks to hold small bags or purses, locking mechanisms and tracking devices, among other features.
Proposals are due by June 1, and the city hopes to select an operator by June 23.
Residents first asked Landrieu to consider a bike-sharing program just after his 2010 election, during meetings of a task force on sustainable energy and the environment. Since then, advocacy groups and Landrieu’s office have studied the feasibility of such a program, with the city receiving technical assistance from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in 2013.
A free demonstration bicycle rental program — sponsored by the New Orleans Super Bowl Host Committee, Entergy Corp., the Downtown Development District and advocacy group Bike Easy — was launched in the week before Super Bowl XLVII was held in New Orleans in 2013. The service was used by more than 500 people in five days, officials said.
The chief of Bike Easy, which independently studied bike sharing in 2012, lauded the administration’s move, calling it a way to increase affordable and accessible transportation in the city, which already has more than 100 miles of dedicated bike lanes.
“We especially look forward to bike share in New Orleans becoming an easy, healthy choice for the many citizens who currently lack viable ways to get to work, the grocery store, the park and other destinations,” Bike Easy Executive Director Dan Favre said.
Follow Jessica Williams on Twitter, @jwilliamsNOLA.