Foundation Announces BR Bikeshare plan

The Baton Rouge Area Foundation today released a report that details a bikeshare plan, including locations for the first stations, and announced the creation of a nonprofit that is charged with implementing bikeshare in Baton Rouge. 

Bikeshare systems are advancing in large and mid-size cities, offering another option in moving around and reducing the amount of automobile traffic as some residents and tourists opt to pedal instead of motor. People with memberships can pick up bikes from stations, ride and leave them at other bikeshare stations with ease.

“BikeShare is among transportation options the Foundation and its partners are exploring to make it easier to move around in the parish,” said John Spain, executive vice president. “Our goal is to roll out stations and bikes within the next 12 months, starting with areas where research shows demand is greatest.”

The Foundation hired Toole Design Group, a leading bicycle and pedestrian transportation planning firm, in spring 2016 to write a business plan for launching and sustaining a bikeshare system in East Baton Rouge Parish. The plan follows recommendations from the September 2015 Building Blocks for Sustainable Communities BikeShare Planning Study, which was commissioned by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and concluded bikeshare is feasible in Baton Rouge.

Slated to launch in Summer 2017, the first phase of Baton Rouge will follow recommendations from Toole and other community stakeholders. It includes 500 bikes and 50 docking stations deployed in downtown, LSU, Southern University and surrounding neighborhoods. A second phase within three years will expand bikeshare to Mid City and the Health District, an area around Perkins Road, Bluebonnet Boulevard and Essen Lane where many of the health care assets of the region are clustered.

Riders will be able to check out bicycles for short rides through annual memberships or by swiping their credit cards at various bikeshare stations. The bikeshare system will be accessible around-the-clock, every day of the year.

The Foundation created a nonprofit – Baton Rouge BikeShare – to quickly get the program up and running. And it underwrote the hiring of the first director, Lindsey Gray West, who started a successful bikeshare program for the Birmingham, Ala., market. In the first year, the Birmingham bikeshare system experienced 63,051 check outs and members rode more than 81,000 miles.

“I have seen the multiple benefits bikeshare brings to a community. Traffic is reduced, people are healthier, and bikeshare prompts cities to improve the infrastructure for biking and walking,” said Lindsey Gray West, executive director of Baton Rouge BikeShare. “Bikeshare will increase livability and mobility in our city.”

Baton Rouge BikeShare will be governed by a board of community stakeholders and the system will be locally operated. The City of Baton Rouge BikeShare Business and Implementation Plan was funded by Baton Rouge Area Foundation, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Louisiana, and Healthy BR.

This complete plan can be downloaded on the Baton Rouge BikeShare project page at www.braf.org/bikeshare and ongoing progress updates can be followed on Facebook at @batonrougebikeshare.