Simpson Returns to Lead San Antonio B-Cycle

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San Antonio B-Cycle's new Executive Director J.D. Simpson. Photo by Robert Rivard.

San Antonio B-Cycle's new Executive Director J.D. Simpson. Photo by Robert Rivard.

J.D. Simpson, one of the city’s original San Antonio B-Cycle employees who left in 2013 to help launch Austin B-Cycle, has been named executive director of the nonprofit San Antonio Bike Share.

Her rehiring, effective Monday, as San Antonio Bike Share’s first paid executive director represents the opening of a new chapter for the program, which launched in 2011 as the first in Texas. The program grew quickly to 55 stations and 400 bikes. The network covers the central city, the Broadway Cultural Corridor and the Missions and Mission Reach of the San Antonio River. Austin, by comparison, has grown to 40 stations and 350 bikes.

Click here for a map of the San Antonio B-Cycle stations.

Cindi Snell, co-owner of Bike World cycling stores, has served as the unpaid executive director since the non-profit’s inception. Snell, who will continue as president on the San Antonio Bike Share board of trustees, praised Simpson.

San Antonio B-Cycle Executive Director Cindi Snell poses for a photo during the 19th annual Walk & Roll Rally. Photo by Scott Ball.

San Antonio B-Cycle Executive Director Cindi Snell is now the nonprofit’s president. Photo by Scott Ball.

“I think J.D.is the perfect person for this job, someone who will get the things done that need to get done,” Snell said. “She is smart and she has great organizational skills. Bike Share is a unique animal, and J.D. going off to Austin is the best thing she could have done to prepare for this challenge.”

One big challenge will be finding more supporters and underwriters. San Antonio Bike Share has struggled to find corporate sponsors, perhaps because so many B-Cycle users are visitors to the city and not local customers of those companies. Supporters of B-Cycle had said earlier this year that the popular bike share program was in danger of collapsing without new funding.

A second challenge, perhaps less daunting, will be reporting to the nonprofit’s soon-to-expand board of trustees while also reporting to City officials. In May, City Council approved more than $120,000 from fiscal year 2015 Hotel Occupancy Tax and Energy Efficiency Funds to underwrite the executive director’s salary and other costs. That funding is seen as transitional and not something the City intends to renew annually on an indefinite basis.

“We are thrilled to have someone with J.D.’s experience and passion in the role of executive director and I look forward to working with her in this next phase of B-Cycle’s service to the community,” the City’s Chief Sustainability Officer Douglas Melnick said.

Simpson will report jointly to Melnick at the City and to the San Antonio Bike Share board, which is expanding from seven to 10 members. Melnick joined the board as the City’s representative and three new at-large appointments will be chosen from a pool of applicants soon to be reviewed by City Council committee. In addition to Snell and Melnick, the board includes William Simons, a co-owner of Bike World and the board’s vice president; Attorney Thomas McKenzie, the board’s secretary; Roger Christianson; Dr. Ken Ciolli; and Dr. William Shea.

Melnick said the City and non-profit board will work well together.

Chief Sustaiablilty Officer of San Antonio Douglas Melnick. Photo by Scott Ball.

The City of San Antonio’s Chief Sustainability Officer Douglas Melnick. File photo by Scott Ball.

“The way I view it, it’s still an independent nonprofit organization,” Melnick said. “During this transition, it’s nice to be involved and provide as much help as we can.”

“I’m excited to work with the City of San Antonio, the board of directors and our partners to move San Antonio B-Cycle forward,” Simpson said. “Our top priority is to serve the community by providing residents and visitors alike with best-in-class alternative transportation.”

Both Melnick and Simpson want to place more emphasis on B-Cycle as an alternative transportation option for “local visitors to downtown, ” that is, people who live in the suburbs and come downtown or to Brackenridge Park, Broadway or down the Mission Reach.

“They can park their cars or come down on the bus and then use B-Cycle to get around,” Simpson said.

A San Antonio B-Cycle at Brackenridge Park. Photo by Scott Ball.

San Antonio B-Cycle at Brackenridge Park. Photo by Scott Ball.

“We are asking ourselves how we fit B-Cycle into a comprehensive transportation system,” Melnick said.

Simpson said her hiring has been greeted with a lot of support.

“There’s much support from the city, from people in the neighborhoods, and locals who use the program,” she said. “People are asking me how they can help.”

Locals who want to make it easier for visitors to use B-Cycle while here can buy an annual membership and share their membership card with friends and family. There also are daily and weekly passes. Click here for a menu of rates and membership information.

 

*Top image: San Antonio B-Cycle’s new Executive Director J.D. Simpson. Photo by Robert Rivard.

Related Stories:

Supporters Reshaping B-Cycle’s Operating Model

Job Opening: Executive Director of San Antonio B-Cycle

Council Approves Funding for B-Cycle, Body Cameras, and More

City Leaders Committed to Saving Bikeshare

San Antonio Could Lose Bikeshare, Too

9 thoughts on “Simpson Returns to Lead San Antonio B-Cycle

  1. Interesting article. Where can I find the revenues and expenses of San Antonio’s B-Cycle for it last fiscal year? Also, are there numbers on the original investment needed to establish the stations and buy the bikes? Thanks.

  2. Help me out. B cycle loses money, so they go out and hire someone and pay her six figures to run it. Seriously wtf , must be nice when its the tax payers money

    • Our highways lose money too, and yet we fund TxDOT to the tune of billions of taxpayer dollars each year. But you’re concerned about B-cycle? Bike sharing may not be a cash cow, but at least everything it does offer is beneficial to our city. Definitely can’t say the same for our roadways…

  3. Here is an idea to increase annual memberships: set up a system where downtown businesses can offer their employees discounted annual memberships. Perhaps you could even get bigger companies like USAA to subsidize memberships for their employees. I work downtown and am surprised at how many people in my office don’t even know what the B-Cycles are or how to use them. We often get reps from fitness centers, Costco, and Sam’s Club to come by and give information about their membership programs and offer corporate discounts. B-Cycle could do something similar.

  4. I want to applaud Cindi Snell for the tremendous amount of work that she has done from the onset of this program. Not only not compensated but done with dedication and love of cycling. The B-Cycle program along with more bikes on the road will be one factor in maintaining and increasing the vitality of our city for this and future generations. So let’s all get with that program !

  5. Allow me to second Jim’s comment. After three years working on getting Earn A Bike off the ground, I can attest to how hard it can be to start something from scratch. It goes way beyond what people see. Cindi started a program that changed San Antonio and they way we move. Our kids won’t give a thought to what it took to make it happen. I personally thank Cindi. Thanks to her we are now a San Antonio program and I’m sure many others will now follow, but now one can take away all the work she did to clear the way for us. Thank you.

  6. I LOVE BCYCLE and am so grateful we have people like Cindi in our city who are willing to fight for programs that challenge the status quo (see: diabesity and sprawl). I lived in the suburbs for a year and a half before moving Downtown, and the idea of renting a bike to go somewhere was ridiculous to me until the first time a friend twisted my arm into giving it a shot. I loved it! What I loved most wasn’t that I was being active (I’m lazy), but that I had OPTIONS on how to get to my destination, as opposed to just driving. I hate working out, I am not an active person, but I love BCycle. I think it’s important for people to know that not just one class of person supports BCycle. As a new program, it will only continue to grow in use and support AND income. Thanks, Cindi, for getting lazy bums like me out of our cars!

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