Friday, January 27, 2023

After a year, a bike share program still being considered for Williamsburg

The City Council heard proposed plans to bring in a consultant to analyze the effects of a bike share program at their meeting on Thursday. (Photo courtesy of Google)
(Photo courtesy of Google)

It has been more than a year since a bike share program was considered for Williamsburg and since then no decisions have been made on whether to bring in the program.

But that doesn’t mean it isn’t still being considered.

Bike share provides users with the ability to pick up a bike in a self-service station and return it in the same or at another location in the service area.

In February 2018, Williamsburg City Council debated bringing in a consultant to look at the economic impact of a bike share program in the downtown area.

Since that time, the economic impact study has not been completed but the program has become part of the 2019-2020 Biennial Goals, Initiatives and Outcomes project, according to documents from the city.

Related story: Greater Williamsburg gets wheels in motion for bike share program

The Biennial Goals, Initiatives and Outcomes project is considered every two years when the City Council evaluates strategic objectives to advance Williamsburg. As a part of the plan, the city has a two-year window to complete the goals, said Lee Ann Hartmann, spokeswoman for the city.

The bike share program falls under the transportation section of the program, which aims to provide effective transportation that is compatible with the future land use plan in conjunction with community partners. This means considering transportation methods that serve not only motorists, but pedestrians and bicyclists.

When the bike share program was first considered by City Council, members shared that it would not only give locals and students greater access to the downtown area but also draw in more tourists.

However, a bike share program can be a costly project. That’s because it would require a number of different stations and necessary routine maintenance.

To consider the pros and cons of a bike share program, the city is putting together an internal group comprised of city staff members that will begin the evaluation process, Hartmann said.

Over the next couple of months, the group will gather information to decide whether the project should be moved forward or not. Once the evaluation is done, the group will make a recommendation to the City Council.

Hartmann said there is no decision yet on how many members will participate in the group because it’s still in the early planning process.

Williamsburg has been analyzing its accessibility for cyclists for a while now because many cycling residents have complained.

Related story: Where the sidewalk ends, danger begins for cyclists in Williamsburg

In fact, the League of American Bicyclists gave Williamsburg a bronze rating in 2017. During their study they found there weren’t any local bicycle-friendly businesses and the total bicycle network mileage to total road network mileage was only 28 percent.

One of the key steps to rising to a silver rating is to launch a bike share program, according to the organization’s survey. The organization lists a bike share program as a convenient and cost effective way to bridge the gap between public transit stops and individual locations.

The internal group will have to weigh those costs with the benefits. There is no set date on when a decision will be made.

Alexa Doiron
Alexa Doironhttp://wydaily.com
Alexa Doiron is a multimedia reporter for WYDaily. She graduated from Roanoke College and is currently working on a master’s degree in English at Virginia Commonwealth University. Alexa was born and raised in Williamsburg and enjoys writing stories about local flair. She began her career in journalism at the Warhill High School newspaper and, eight years later, still loves it. After working as a news editor in Blacksburg, Va., Alexa missed Williamsburg and decided to come back home. In her free time, she enjoys reading Jane Austen and playing with her puppy, Poe. Alexa can be reached at alexa@localvoicemedia.com.

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