City Leaders Committed to Saving Bikeshare

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The San Antonio B-Cycle hub located at the corner of César Chávez Boulevard and South Alamo Street. Photo by Scott Ball.

Scott Ball / Rivard Report

Like Houston San Anotonio Bcycle bike sharing program gives alternate transportation options to both residents and visitors.

The potential loss of San Antonio B-Cycle has the city abuzz with talk of how to save the popular bikeshare program.

A Rivard Report article published on Wednesday, which outlined San Antonio B-Cycle Executive Director Cindi Snell’s plans to step down from the position in September, prompted a strong response from readers and City leadership, worried about the program’s future in San Antonio.

(Read More: San Antonio Could Lose Bikeshare, Too)

“We need to determine what would be the best way to ensure their viability and sustainability,” Mayor Ivy Taylor said Wednesday. “We should be able to find funding.” 

Where that funding would come from is yet to be determined, but City leadership seems confident that a solution will be found.

“We will ensure that the program will continue. It’s fabulous. I live downtown, so I see how many people use it,” said City Manager Sheryl Sculley said. “We’re committed to make it work.”

Sculley said that City funding could be an option, but that decision would ultimately be left up to City Council.

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UPDATED on Thursday, April 9 at 4:45 p.m.:

San Antonio B-Cycle Executive Director Cindi Snell poses for a photo at the B-Cycle station located at the Witte Museum. Photo by Scott Ball.

San Antonio B-Cycle Executive Director Cindi Snell poses for a photo at the Witte Museum’s B-Cycle station. Photo by Scott Ball.

Snell, who co-owns Bike World and runs the nonprofit San Antonio Bike Share that operates the local B-cycle as an unpaid executive, said she is frustrated with B-Cycle’s current standing.

“We need to become sustainable and the board needs to find an executive director,” she said.

She told friends and colleagues in the cycling community that she is exhausted after four years of unsuccessful efforts to win any major sponsorships and operating on a bare bones budget and pro bono support services to survive.

“I really feel that we have to find a branding sponsor, and I believe our political leadership is in a position to ask for that,” she said. “My hope is that we find one branding sponsor to be the name on every bicycle.”

She said B-Cycle generates money from day-pass users and annual members, but those funds are not enough to support the nonprofit’s operations – finding a branding sponsor would help make these operating costs possible.

In order for B-Cycle to function as it was intended with an adequate number of staff members, Snell said the nonprofit needs $500,000 a year for the next three years. That number is low compared to other large cities with bikeshare programs. Philadelphia received an $8.5 million contribution from Independence Blue Cross to be used over the next five years, and Denver’s bike system is sponsored by health care provider Kaiser Permanente.

She said if B-Cycle finds a branding sponsor, they will add 200 bikes and 21 stations to the downtown and surrounding areas using the $1.2 million Texas Department of Transportation (TXDOT) grant, which would increase the size of B-Cycle by 40%. She said she hopes to implement the stations in neighborhoods that connect to the core of downtown.

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“(Bikeshare) is a mobility option that’s essential,” said Chief Sustainability Officer Douglas Melnick.

Wednesday night, more than 55 people had commented on the original article, most expressing disappointment with the possible closure of the local B-Cycle franchise. Many readers called on San Antonio-based corporations – including Rackspace, USAA, H-E-B, Toyota, Tesoro, NuStar Energy, and others – to step forward with sponsorships.

Reader Chris L commented that the loss of B-Cycle in San Antonio would be major – even more so than ridesharing.

“Far more than just tourists use B-Cycle, and bike sharing signals a trend of residents wanting to find viable alternatives to expensive car ownership. Yes, even here. You may not personally use B-Cycle but it’s a more important part of our city’s fabric than we realize,” he stated.

San Antonio B-Cycle has proven to be a successful method of transportation for community members and tourists who have checked out the bikes more than 275,000 times since its launch in 2011.

Read more about San Antonio B-Cycle’s precarious future here.

 

Rivard Report Managing Editor Iris Dimmick contributed to this report.

*Featured/top image: The San Antonio B-Cycle hub located at the corner of César Chávez Boulevard and South Alamo Street. Photo by Scott Ball.

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San Antonio Could Lose Bikeshare, Too

Summer Updates From SA B-cycle

Field Research, Riding Around on the San Antonio B-cycle

City Council Removes South Flores Bike Lanes

B-cycle Heading Down the Mission Reach

23 thoughts on “City Leaders Committed to Saving Bikeshare

  1. Agreed, Chicago does sponsorships as well. It’s a win win for everyone. Please bring back ride sharing, it was such a loss to our city!

  2. Wait. I thought April fools was last week. B-cycle isn’t going anywhere. You can’t go through downtown without seeing dozens of people riding everywhere on b-cycles. I suspect they are doing just fine and these rumors are just trying to drum up additional support.

  3. I thought they got a grant to even exist and aren’t people paying for it? Sometimes we fight for things that are economically not serving a purpose as much as people want to be like other cities … Economically it’s money that can be served at other areas… It’s a good idea but this isn’t San Francisco not is it Ny not is it austin… We are a walking town… We should have a shoe share… I see more people walk then ride a bike … I own a bike cause I want to ride it not cause I think others should or would.. I wonder how much it cost to even exist…to maintain? I bet allot… More than people actually use it…

    • Just imagine what an awesome bike network you could build with just a fraction of that quarter billion dollars they wanted to through down that money-eating black hole known as the street car project.

  4. Too many b-cycle stations. Just keep the ones that get used most. Tourists and people on dates use them alot.

  5. Why is this city afraid to be hip??!! People want walkability, the “D” word density and outdoor adventures.

  6. Why is this city afraid to be hip??!! People want walkability, the “D” word density and outdoor adventures.

  7. Commenters ^^^^^ read earlier articles. Most cities bike shares are supported by a big local company. Ours in SA has no such sponsor. Fees from riders don’t pay for it.
    This is about money, not about Council driving it out, or over-regulating.
    As to its grants, they are specific things. Few grantors pay for operations, but that’s what is lacking. It’s the way non-profit funding works.

  8. I like the idea of bikeshare. And Im cool with the city spending some taxpayer money to get things started. After that, it should be self-sustaining (via use fees or corporate sponsors.) If he can’t be self-sustaining then it isn’t being managed properly or it just isn’t viable.

  9. As a concerned citizen and a health & wellness rep. at my school I contacted Blue Cross Blue Shield of Texas, which has a partnership with North East ISD, to see if BCBSTX would be willing to step up to the plate. Information was sent to B-cycle today relaying how to apply for sponsorship. I hope that city leaders, corporations mentioned in the article, and or BCBSTX can take care of this great need for the health of our community. #gospursgo #chainreactionsanantonio #cyclelogic

  10. 50k for the station doesn’t seem out of line. 1k for a basic no-frills bike is ludicrous.

    8-10k per year in maintenance is outrageous.

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