TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) - Cycling is so popular in Southern Arizona that the city of Tucson will host informational sessions over the next couple of months to consider a bike share program.
The first session held Monday night provided a basic understanding of bike share concepts. Organizers explained that more than 30 cities across the country already have programs, but they vary in size, cost, technology and ridership.
The city hired Toole Design Group to help staff through the research phase of the program. Adrian Witte, a civil engineer with the company, said bike share programs can be a complement to existing transportation like the Sun Link Streetcar.
"Someone gets off at their stop and they walk five minutes," he said. "They could go farther with a five minute bike ride."
He said Tucson will need to narrow down a focus, whether the program is meant for visiting tourists to explore the city, people working downtown in need of a quick ride to lunch or possibly providing more public transportation access to families who need it.
Vanessa Cascio, who rode to the info session on bike, said she works in South Tucson and would like to see more bikes available.
"You have communities where people don't have cars, and so this could be an opportunity to really help those communities," she said.
Cascio added that investing in a program like a bike share would provide an option for college students like herself who are interested in alternative ways to get around the city. It may even be a reason for staying in Tucson after graduation.
"It's something that I've become really passionate about," she said. "It's a community that I would like to stay in and I feel really invested in."
Programs in other cities have bikes that are linked to docking stations, where people can register and pay to use them. Other programs provide 'smart' bikes with the tech built right into the equipment, so they can lock onto any bike rack.
Witte said the technology works to keep riders accountable so that bikes are not stolen or vandalized. Various tracking devices like GPS are also used to keep tabs on bikes and their riders.
The city is developing a website for the program in the coming weeks. Several info sessions are expected in the following months.