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.
“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.
“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.
“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.