February 26, 2014 10:09:49 AM
Nathan Gregory - [email protected]
Columbus-Lowndes Convention and Visitors Bureau Executive Director Nancy Carpenter said she's working with city leadership on a potential bicycle transit system and will help draft a plan in the coming months on starting one in Columbus.
Carpenter said serious consideration of such a system here began last week when she joined a group of local officials and citizens on a trip to Chattanooga, Tenn.
That Tennessee city has a bike transit system featuring hundreds of bikes at more than 30 locations that are available year-round. Each location has a touchscreen kiosk as well as a neighborhood map and docking points that release bikes to riders when they enter a member key or ride code. Riders have the option of purchasing a 24-hour pass or they can use them hourly before they return bikes to stations that are monitored to make sure people are paying and that there are enough bikes at each one.
Carpenter said she had regularly been asked by people who attend events in Columbus if it has such a system, and she believed a smaller-scale version of the one in Chattanooga would serve some visitors' and residents' commuting needs. She noted a recent failed attempt to bring a public bus transit system. After more than a year of back and forth between the city and Lawrence Transit System on getting public bus routes running, the city canceled its contract with LTS in December. Since then, there has been no public discussion from city councilmen on contracting with another transportation provider.
"We have so many people who come to Columbus and are at the marina," Carpenter said Monday during a CVB meeting. "Once they're dropped off, they walk. Several of them over the years have asked us if we have a bike transit system, so that's something I think would go well here."
Planning for the system, including funding, is in the very early stages, she added.
Nathan Gregory covers city and county government for The Dispatch.