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RTC OKs contract for bike-sharing program in downtown Las Vegas

Bike sharing is officially coming to downtown Las Vegas.

After months of planning and analysis, the Regional Transportation Commission of Southern Nevada board unanimously approved a contract with BCycle, of Waterloo, Wis., to build 15 to 20 bicycle docking stations and provide a fleet of up to 200 bicycles to start Southern Nevada’s first bike-sharing program.

BCycle was the best bidder of seven submissions and will be paid $963,206 to build the system. The bid was awarded Thursday.

The program is expected to debut in late August.

The Nevada Department of Transportation is paying for 95 percent of the program through congestion mitigation and air quality funding with 5 percent coming from commission funds.

Bicycles in the program will be confined to a 1½-square-mile area bordered by Interstate 15 to the west, U.S. Highway 95 to the north, Bruce Street to the east and Charleston Boulevard to the south. The southern boundary juts farther south from Charleston on Las Vegas Boulevard and Main Street to the Stratosphere area.

Downtown has become more bicycle friendly over the past few years, with a grid of green bike lanes throughout the area.

David Swallow, a senior director with the RTC, called the bike-sharing program “an extension of our transit network.”

Here’s how it will work: A customer will locate a bicycle docking station and can purchase a membership at a kiosk at the station. Memberships also can be purchased online from BCycle’s website. The memberships can be for 24 hours, a week, a month or a year.

At the kiosk, the customer chooses a bike from the docking station. After the bike is checked out, the customer has it for 30 minutes before checking it in at another station. Additional time will get charged to an on-file credit card.

Smartphone applications available for free will show which stations have bicycles or docking ports available in real time.

Swallow expects the bike-sharing program will be popular with bus commuters who ride into downtown Las Vegas on express buses. As part of the commission’s preparation for the program, it was determined that there are about 9,000 downtown residents and about 27,000 jobs downtown.

BCycle is in 40 cities nationwide with Salt Lake City among the closest to Las Vegas. In Salt Lake City, where the system is branded GREENBike, the membership rates are $5 for 24 hours, $15 for a month and $75 for an annual pass.

Before the program can begin, the RTC also will publish a request for proposals for a maintenance contract. That contract will cover maintenance of the bicycles and stations as well as “rebalancing” — moving bicycles from stations that have too many bikes to those with not enough.

Officials would like to persuade a company to sponsor or brand the system to reduce costs.

Commissioners are hoping to expand the bike-share program next to the area around the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.

In other commission business, Nevada Department of Transportation Director Rudy Malfabon told the board that the agency has tentatively set April 7 for the official groundbreaking of Project Neon, the three-year, $1.5 billion overhaul of the Spaghetti Bowl interchange between I-15 and U.S. 95.

Contact Richard N. Velotta at rvelotta@reviewjournal.com or 702-477-3893. Find him on Twitter: @RickVelotta

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