Outside Houston City Hall, a B-cycle representative shows how riders use a card to check out one of the sturdy silver bikes lined up next to a self-serve kiosk. With big fenders and chain guards, riders can safely hop on in a business suit.
State Senator Rodney Ellis was one of the local officials who gave the bikes a tryout.
“It is a very comfortable bike. The key thing is the seat is comfortable. And for those of you who are not into Spandex just yet, it is extremely important.”
Houston is now joining cities like Chicago and Washington, DC in providing bikes for short-term rentals. Riders can buy a yearly membership for $50 or they can purchase a one-day membership directly at the kiosk for $5.
Mayor Annise Parker says the program is starting with just 18 bikes but they’d like to have about 200 bikes by the end of the year.
“Currently we’re just in the downtown area with three locations: Discovery Green, Market Square, and here, so you can do the downtown triangle. But we hope it will be embraced by Houstonians, as it has been in other cities, and we’ll be able to expand the system.”
The program is operated by the nonprofit organization Houston Bike Share. It’s funded through an EPA Climate Showcase grant. Federal stimulus dollars will be used to expand the program.
Parker says along with helping locals get around without having to get behind the wheel, Bike Share will also give visitors a new way to see Houston.
“I think it’s going to be something that the folks who are involved in conventions around the George R. Brown will find very interesting. If they’re over in the convention center hotel or at a conference, you can just jump on a bike.”