The Carrboro Town Council has been focusing on the development of a bike share system since the creation of its 2009 Bicycle Transportation Plan, and on Nov. 9, they provided updates on their service, which will connect Carrboro, Chapel Hill and UNC through one system.
Following a presentation by Carrboro Transportation Director Zachary Hallock, the council unanimously approved a request for a proposal for the project. RFPs are documents that outline a project by providing background information and project requirements. This helps inform companies on expectations before they submit a bid to get the contract for the project.
The presentation to Town Council members gave the community the chance to ask questions and add suggestions before the RFP was formally submitted.
New information was provided regarding the types of bicycle hubs that the council would prefer, the degree of coverage expected and how the program will be evaluated.
Hallock presented options for fixed and floating hubs. Fixed hubs require the vehicle to be returned to a specific location and locked in place by the rider, whereas floating hubs allow riders to leave them in an area near the hub where they will be collected and returned by staff.
“As to why this might be important, this sort of floating hub provides us some better opportunities to look at ways to broaden our coverage to the fullest extent possible,” Hallock said.
Carrboro Town Council member Damon Seils said he was in favor of using the bike share system as a complement to the existing transportation infrastructure in the area.
“One of the values of a system of this kind is that it helps close that last reach to a bus stop,” Seils said. “So for someone who is maybe in a neighborhood that doesn’t have great access to transit, having access to a service of this kind would offer them better access to transit.”
Council members especially emphasized the importance of bike sharing areas such as the north of Carrboro which is not dense enough to serve as a priority for transit, adding that bikes can allow people from these communities to interact more with the transit system and have more mobility.
Some of the concerns raised by the council were the difficulty of enforcing an age requirement to use a bike. Council member Susan Romaine said she was uncomfortable with the idea of children taking out the bikes and behaving irresponsibly, especially because the bikes can accelerate up to 25 miles per hour.
“That idea does worry me a little bit, I’ll be honest,” Romaine said.
Mayor Lydia Lavelle also discussed the importance of accessibility, stating that she wants the bikes to be available for use by all members of the community.
“I think that it's clear that we would want to find some way to have some certain groups of people – maybe older, maybe lower income, maybe folks with disabilities that can still ride bikes – there might be a way that we want to have folks still be able to access bikes and not pay as much,” Lavelle said.
As a result of the meeting, new items were added to the RFP. Among the changes included the addition of a question for companies regarding how they will accommodate elderly citizens and those with disabilities, as well as a clause requiring the company to disclose their electricity generation and usage data so the town can more accurately gauge the environmental impact of the program. One suggested alternative was to attempt to incorporate solar power into the bike charging.
The project is still in its early stages, so no definitive time table has been set for its completion.
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