Council wants to bring bike-sharing program to Kirkland

Bike kiosks like this one might become common place in Kirkland during the next couple of years if the council succeeds in bringing a  bike-sharing program to the city.  - Contributed photo
Bike kiosks like this one might become common place in Kirkland during the next couple of years if the council succeeds in bringing a bike-sharing program to the city.
— image credit: Contributed photo

A new bike-sharing program could be coming to Kirkland within the next five years. King County and other agencies have been exploring the program since 2008 and as soon as the first phase is completed in Seattle, Mayor Joan McBride hopes there is some way to expedite a program for Kirkland.

“I want to get on the map sooner,” McBride said at the Sept. 4 council meeting. “How much would it take and whose door do you want me to knock on?”

The bike-share program is exactly what it sounds like: A system that allows citizens to share bikes through kiosks strategically located around the city and King County.

While the mayor, along with other council members, would love to start the process sooner, waiting for Seattle to finish its program allows the council to understand the kiosks’ technology and work out the kinks before the program begins in Kirkland.

Bike sharing is comparable to Zip Car and will require users to pay an annual ($75), monthly ($30) or day-long ($5) subscription. Bikers receive 30 minutes to an hour of “grace period” before additional fees are tacked on for the ride.

The Bike Share Partnership, comprised of multiple public and private agencies, established the Puget Sound Bike Share program as a nonprofit to administer the phases throughout King County.

Phases 1A and 1B will place 110 stations and 1,100 bikes in Seattle. Phase 1B is expected to finish by 2014. A year later, 50 stations and 500 bikes could be added to the first two phases by 2015.

Capital funding for the first phase in Seattle is expected to reach $3.7 million, with private sponsorship covering up to $2 million and grants or other funding needed for up to $2.7 million more. Operating costs expect to be covered by grants, station sponsorship and user revenues for a total of $1.4 million.

Depending on how much money can be assured, Kirkland and other Eastside cities could see 60 stations and 600 bikes by 2017 in Phase 3. Phase 4 will expose other areas such as Ballard or Kent.

All members have approved the program as a pilot but they have yet to touch on the “nitty gritty” money issues, said council member Amy Walen.

However, depending on how fast cities can secure grants and private sponsorships, it is possible for Kirkland to start earlier.

“I would love to see Kirkland be in the second phase,” McBride said.

McBride said that the next steps will be to continue to have staff participate in meetings, observe how the first phase goes and then understand how those kiosks work.

The Cascade Bicycle Club, King County Metro, Sound Transit, the Washington State Department of Transportation, Microsoft, REI, the Seattle Children’s Hospital, the University of Washington, the City of Redmond and the City of Seattle are among the local agencies that have been actively involved.

When the bike kiosks finally come to Kirkland, they will most likely be 1,000 to 1,300 feet apart and central to areas of high density. The council discussed Carillon Point, downtown Kirkland and city park-and-rides as areas that would most likely see a lot of traffic.

“It’ll help us advance the goals of transportation in Kirkland as put forward by the Kirkland City Council,” said City of Kirkland Transportation Engineering Manager David Godfrey, who is also on the project’s board of directors.

City documents indicate that the bikes are meant to be used for short trips that involve transit and in areas with “high movement.”

“I think that it’s both an economic development strategy as well as good for tourism,” Walen said.

Bike sharing has been a popular mode of transportation in many cities such as Denver, Washington D.C., Minneapolis and Boston, according to city documents. Portland, Vancouver, New York and Chicago are in the process of adopting such systems as well.

McBride and Walen said at the Sept. 4 council meeting that bike sharing is dispersed throughout Europe and is quite successful.

“I have traveled in Europe - Paris and Barcelona - and seen the bike share program,” McBride said. “They’re convenient, they’re safe. It’s just the kind of thing Kirkland would be interested in. (There’s) no more beautiful place to bike than on Lake Washington and Cross Kirkland Corridor (once that’s finished).”

Puget Sound Bike Share is currently looking for an executive director and has asked for expenses associated with the director. The City of Kirkland allotted $5,000 with the approved budget within the Public Works Department. The executive director will develop additional private funding partners. Puget Sound Bike Share hopes to have this position filled by October.


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