- Associated Press - Sunday, March 1, 2015

COLUMBUS, Ind. (AP) - Two Indiana cities are rolling out proposals to start bike-sharing programs to promote health and give visitors easier ways to get around.

Carmel plans to launch its bike-sharing program this month, while Columbus officials have just started talks about a program there. Both cities hope to build on successes in Indianapolis, which has seen more than 90,000 rides on the 250 bikes placed at 26 stations in and around downtown through its Indiana Pacers Bikeshare program.

David Littlejohn, Carmel’s alternative transportation coordinator, told The Indianapolis Star that the city decided to explore a bike-sharing program after hearing for years from hotels that guests often inquire about renting bikes.

“Bike tourism is becoming bigger,” he said.

The city plans to park 16 bikes at two docks. Riders will pay $3 an hour, up to $24 for 24 hours. Users also can buy monthly or annual passes that allow unlimited rides of less than an hour.

The city is paying Zagster $1,320 a year per bike and a one-time fee of $8,600 to set up the docks and equipment. Carmel will keep 93 percent of the net revenues from the rental fees.

The Columbus Park Foundation is looking into similar possibilities. The foundation has consulted with Karen Haley, executive director of Indianapolis Cultural Trail Inc., for advice.

Columbus officials tell The Republic that a bike-sharing program would allow users to explore the city’s more than 41 miles of bicycle trails.

April Williams, the foundation’s project and resource development director, said local employers and tourism leaders are interested in learning more.

“Everybody was on board and at least thought it was worth investigating,” she said.

The foundation plans two public meetings this month to gauge public interest and determine how many bikes and kiosks would be needed.

Laura Garrett, who works with Columbus Regional Health’s Reach Healthy Communities Initiative, thinks the idea will take off.

“If you look at things like Indianapolis Cultural Trail and protective bike lanes - if you build it, they will come,” she said.

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