Great Rivers Greenway—a special taxing district created in 2000, when St. Louisans devoted a tenth-of-a-cent sales tax premium to for the creation of trails and parks—issued a request for qualifications in December. Now a feasibility study from bike sharing firm Alta Planning + Design says the city’s ready for a two-year roll out of 60 stations with 540 bikes, with 30 additional stations and 250 bikes to follow.“Divvy,” Chicago’s bike share program, last year announced plans to expand to 475 stations. The system already has 3,000 bikes deployed. (Kevin Zolkiewicz via Flickr)
Details are still up to local stakeholders, but but NextSTL’s Alex Ihnen called the system’s implementation “imminent,” adding “There’s zero reason a St. Louis bike share system won’t be successful.” Alta operates or has consulted for 10 bike sharing programs across the country, including New York City’s Citibike, D.C.’s Capital Bikeshare and Chicago’s Divvy. (View a list of suggested station locations here, compiled to balance community input with equal access to stations among low-income communities and neighborhoods of color.)
As with those systems, stakeholders in St. Louis will have to establish an ownership structure (likely nonprofit) and raise money before any pedals start turning. Foundations, public financing, and private sponsorships are all options for the $2.7 million to $4.2 million needed for launch and capital costs. That likely means an operational system is a few years away.
But supporters are not deterred.
“The time is right to explore a bike share program in St. Louis,” said Elizabeth Simons, assistant project manager at Great Rivers Greenway. “Based on the rise of commuter cycling in St. Louis—along with the feedback we are receiving from the community—there appears to be a pent-up demand for a bike share system.”
According to Great Rivers Greenway’s study, phase one would be a strip of development running west from Downtown St. Louis to Washington University, followed by future stations in neighborhoods to the north, south and west. The study reports more than 60 percent of St. Louis residents said they were either likely or very likely to use a bike share.