As construction continues along the Connective Corridor and other major streets around the city, what we will soon be seeing are more bicycle lanes. As part of the city’s comprehensive plan, Syracuse has implemented The Syracuse Bicycle Plan, a program designed to create “an interconnected bicycling network, provide a guide for implementation and appropriate treatments in the Syracuse climate, educate the public about the benefits of bicycling as a mode of travel and overall make Syracuse a “cycle city”.
This is a great first step in improving the vitality of downtown. The addition of a connected grid of bicycle lanes does more than merely add a convenient way for bicycle enthusiasts to travel; it paves the way, no pun intended, towards a more sustainable urban future.
One way to capitalize on the bicycle improvements in the downtown core would be the addition of a bike share program. Smart Bike Programs are formed out of public private partnerships and allow users to rent a bike from one location and return it to another. The fee to rent a bike for a short term is generally quite low to encourage riders to choose the more sustainable biking option over vehicle transportation. Smart phones make the processes even smoother by offering smart mapping and easy payment options.
The initial expense of the program is often covered by the city with help from grants and private sponsorships. Sponsors often are allowed publicity on the bikes or at the rental stations, while supporting a cause that improves the health and wellness of their community. The CoGo program in Columbus Ohio is just celebrating its first birthday and already a local company has jumped on board to offer a 5 year, 1.5 million dollar sponsorship, helping to keep the program running for years to come.
Shifting the focus from the movement of cars through a city to the movement of people in a city should clear up many of the infrastucure related questions that are lingering over Syracuse. A connected bike grid and bike sharing program is one piece of that puzzle.