Bicycle wheels are almost ready to roll on Tampa streets. Some assembly is required.
Beginning in late August, 300 rent-able bicycles scattered across more than 30 locations in downtown, Channelside, Ybor City, Hyde Park and Davis Islands will kick-start Coast Bike Share
, the city's long-anticipated "bike share" program.
Mayor Bob Buckhorn hopped aboard one of the blue bicycles for a short spin down the sidewalk by City Hall.
"I think it is one more amenity that will allow the city to take its place as a great American city," he says. "I couldn't be more excited. We want them to succeed. I want to see blue bikes all over downtown. We're going to paint the town blue with these bikes."
Before residents get their pedal time, Coast Bike Share
will assemble more blue bicycles at a warehouse on Franklin Street. But ahead of the August launch, memberships are available for purchase.
They include a special $99 annual membership that comes with 90 minutes of ride time per day instead of the standard 60 minute ride, and a free helmet.
The bicycles weigh in at a relatively light 39 pounds, well below the industry standard of 51 pounds. Cruising speed is 11 miles per hour. They have baskets in the front and operate with a shaft drive rather than greasy chains. "They are very easy to ride," says Eric Trull, Coast's program manager.
The bike share system, and its tech savvy bicycles, are from New York City-based Social Bicycles
which also has programs in Phoenix, Orlando and San Francisco. Tampa's program is managed by Miami-based Cyclehop
which has 20 years experience in the cycling industry.
Residents can keep their eyes peeled for "coming soon" signs that will be placed at rental hubs including Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park and City Hall. As the program expands, Coast officials anticipate adding kiosks in the SoHo district, Tampa Heights, Seminole Heights and Westshore. The University of South Florida plans to launch its own bike-share program, Trull says.
Advertising opportunities also are available for small businesses and other organizations that want to sponsor a bicycle kiosk. For information send an email to this address