Those looking for a way to get around Cowtown on two wheels instead of four will have more options this spring.
Fort Worth Bike Sharing has announced eight new locations to check out and check in its snazzy red bicycles.
The nonprofit program, started in April 2013 with a $1 million federal grant, is expanding in hopes of attracting more annual members in a city that ranks dead last among the 52 largest cities in bicycling as a means of commuting.
“We definitely want to encourage more annual members, as well as more of a transportation use of the system,” said Kristen Camareno, executive director of Fort Worth Bike Sharing. “Any trip that anyone takes on the bike instead of in their car is good for everybody.”
With just over 450 annual members — only 0.06 percent of the city’s population — Camareno said the goal is to continue to grow the still-young program and attract more people to cycling as a means of transportation.
The system’s primary use right now is by those checking the bikes out one day at a time; 24,330 of the 24-hour memberships used since the program started have been one-day passes. The single-day pass is $8, compared with $80 for an annual membership.
A study by the nonprofit Alliance for Biking and Walking ranked Fort Worth last in bicycling or walking as a means to commute in a study of the 52 largest U.S. cities. Fort Worth also ranks 50th for pedestrian and cyclist fatality rates in the same study.
Camareno said the city is starting to see a culture shift, however, with more people comfortable taking the bikes for a spin.
“I think just seeing the bikes on the streets has made people more comfortable riding around and I hope that trend continues and it becomes more of a hot topic,” Camareno said.
The Alliance for Biking and Walking study estimates about 0.1 percent of Fort Worth residents cycle to work, compared with the 0.6 percent national average and an average 1 percent for the 52 largest cities.
But the city has been working to change that, first approving a Bike Fort Worth plan in 2009 and a Walk Fort Worth plan earlier this year. In the new 2014 bond program, $10 million will go to new sidewalk infrastructure and $1.26 million is dedicated to new bike lanes and trails.
Fort Worth Bike Sharing will also be up to 45 stations and 360 bikes when the new stations come online in spring through a $554,610 program administered by the Texas Department of Transportation, Camareno said. The local sharing program started with 300 bikes and 27 stations.
Four of the new stations will be downtown: at Panther Island Pavilion, 777 Main St., Trinity Uptown ,and Texas and Florence streets.
The other four are spread a little farther, with one on Riverfront Drive east of Woodshed Smokehouse, at Trinity Park South near the mini-railroad depot, outside the Visitors Center at the Stockyards Station, and at the Moncrief Cancer Institute.
Two more stations need to be added, but their locations have not been finalized.
Next year, Camareno said, the program is going to “ask people to think outside the box, to think about how to make bike sharing work for them.”
For example, she said that if biking to work isn’t feasible, check out a bike to make a lunch appointment or to get some exercise on a break. She said program officials are also working on a program that will make the bicycles free or reduced price to help low-income riders.
Caty Hirst, 817-390-7984
By the numbers
53,479 Total trips for Fort Worth Bike Sharing
167,000 miles Approximate distance the bikes have traveled
6 million-plus Calories burned by bike sharing users
24,330 Day members
450-plus Annual members