Jacksonville could soon have more bells ringing on city streets as bike sharing gains popularity.
Bike sharing provides bicycles to the public for point-to-point travel which are then returned to bike-holding stations.
For two months the Hyatt Regency Jacksonville Riverfront has been operating a bicycle rental service in response to its rising popularity at other Hyatt locations in Florida.
Pat Trammell, the hotel’s senior director of sales and marketing, said the service enhances the guest experience.
“We did this because our resort division was having great success with people using the bikes,” said Trammell, “and although we’re not in a resort lacation, the river and the Riverwalk offer some beautiful opportunity to explore the city via bicycle.”
Anyone over the age of 18 can rent these bikes on a 24-hour basis for $25. A renter must present an ID and credit card to check out a bike.
In addition, Jacksonville may have more bikes to come with the help of a private-public partnership with Jacksonville Transportation Authority and Unity Plaza, currently being developed as part of the 220 Riverside Project.
The project is an urban residential community expected to open this fall that will include restaurants, underground parking, and retail space with Unity Plaza as its hub.
Jen Jones, executive director of Unity Plaza, said the main bike share station would be at the plaza. Thirty more 15-bike holding hubs would also be installed in the Riverside area.
The stations would be placed near Jacksonville’s historic shopping district in areas like Five Points, Avondale, and Kings Street.
Jones says the arrangement would benefit business owners located near these stops and expose citizens to Jacksonville’s immense history.
“We just really feel that bike share is fun, it brings our city together,” she said. “It promotes discovering Jacksonville from the bike perspective and even the pedestrian perspective.”
“We believe that many of the most beautiful aspects of Jacksonville are missed because we are behind the wheel of an automobile.”
If the bike share program is a success, the number of stations will be expanded beyond the city’s Urban Core and into other neighborhoods, Jones said.
The partnership is also advocating for extending the Skyway by constructing a station along Riverside Avenue, connecting the central business district and 220 Riverside.
In April, the partnership applied for a $1.5 million federal Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery, or TIGER, grant to fund the bike sharing program.
The TIGER program awards funding to projects that will repair critical transportation issues.
Jones said it is very plausible that the project will receive the grant funding because it promotes better transportation options and community wellness.
“Bike share really fits into the community building and connectivity and passion we have in uplifting Jacksonville, as well as the health and wellness component,” Jones said. “It’s such a wonderful way to coalesce people together, to go out and explore our city.”
Jones said she expects updates on whether the program will receive the award later this summer.
Once they know whether they have received the grant, the partnership will be able to determine the overall cost of the project and decide whether to work with an already established bike sharing company or create its own.
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