Gotcha Bikes

The long-discussed Baton Rouge bike share program is set to roll out in March at scores of locations, including downtown, LSU and Southern University. Gotcha will provide about 500 bikes in the initial phase. The program will eventually include more than 800 bikes set up at locations across the city.

A long-discussed Baton Rouge bike-share program is set to roll out in March at scores of spots, including downtown, LSU and Southern University locations.

John Spain, executive vice president of the Baton Rouge Area Foundation, said Tuesday the program will start off with about 500 bikes. They will have small electric motors that will help make it easier to pedal the bikes.

There’s talk about introducing the program in time for St. Patrick’s Day because that’s a major event happening in March and the bikes, which will be provided through a public-private partnership with Gotcha, are a vivid green.

“Why not make it fun?” Spain said during an address at the Baton Rouge Area Chamber’s monthly luncheon held at the East Baton Rouge Parish Main Library at Goodwood.

Riders will use an app from Gotcha to pick up a bike from a designated stand. After they get to their destination, they will return the bike to another stand. Plans are to eventually have about 80 stands across the parish.

Two more phases of the bike-share program will be introduced over the next two years. The second phase will cover Mid City, while the third phase will include the Health District in the Perkins-Essen-Bluebonnet corridor.

Eventually, there will be between 800 and 850 bikes across the parish. The bikes will be equipped with GPS tracking, so people won’t be able to steal them, Spain said. The GPS tracking also will allow Gotcha to determine where best to deploy bikes.

The city-parish’s contract with Gotcha is capped at $801,000.

Spain said another long-discussed BRAF initiative, an effort to restore and beautify the LSU lakes, is close to beginning.

“We think we have the funding,” Spain said. “We’re going to meet with various people. We think we’re very close to having the funding.”

It will cost $25 million to drain and dredge the lakes to make it once again deep enough to support marine life. There also are plans to dig areas in the lake bottom so fish can spawn.

Follow Timothy Boone on Twitter, @TCB_TheAdvocate.