Wheels turning slowly on Providence bike share

By Patrick Anderson
PBN Staff Writer

Bike share isn’t easy. There’s community hostility to worry about – from drivers, anti-gentrification activists and even neighbors who don’t like a system’s chosen color – plus numerous technical land mines and the challenge of staying solvent. More

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TRANSPORTATION

Wheels turning slowly on Providence bike share

By Patrick Anderson
PBN Staff Writer

Posted 4/28/14

Bike share isn’t easy.

There’s community hostility to worry about – from drivers, anti-gentrification activists and even neighbors who don’t like a system’s chosen color – plus numerous technical land mines and the challenge of staying solvent.

In the past year Montreal bike-share pioneer Bixi has filed for bankruptcy and New York City’s popular Citi Bike system has reportedly run into serious financial distress.

So Alta Bicycle Share, the Oregon company chosen to launch bike share in Providence, is moving carefully and deliberately to piece together the first such system in Rhode Island.

After initially hoping Providence bike share could debut this year, city officials have confirmed that the spring of 2015 is now a more likely time frame. Selected over two other bidders to run the Providence system late last fall, Alta has spent the past three and a half months laying the groundwork for a crucial element of almost any contemporary bike-share system: finding a corporate sponsor to bankroll operations.

Alta has hired Nail Communications Inc. of Providence to seek out and pitch potential sponsors on the benefits of supporting a city bike-share system.

It’s been a meticulous process, with Nail compiling data, seeking out corporate contacts and tailoring its pitch to different industries.

The firm doesn’t expect to begin actually pitching companies until May, with an eye toward collecting the best offers in June.

“We will be providing some reference points of what it is worth in media terms to their brands and contrasting that with other cities,” said Nail Managing Partner Jeremy Crisp. “Then they can put in a bid they think is fair. Our anticipation is we will see a number of solid bids and then take time to try to maximize their value for the city.”

Bike sharing is one of the strategies for achieving Mayor Angel Taveras’ transportation goal for the Sustainable Providence Plan, says Sheila Dormody, the city’s director of sustainability. The plan focuses on environmental sustainability goals for energy, food, water, waste, land use and development, and transportation.

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