Fort Worth

Expansion plans for bike programs in Fort Worth docked in subcommittee

Six months after a City Council commission began looking into whether Fort Worth should allow dockless bikes in the city, their work has been moved to a subcommittee for a more in-depth review.

At three meetings since October, the Pedestrian and Bicycle Advisory Commission, whose nine members are appointed by the mayor and City Council members, has heard from the public, the dockless bikes companies and the current station-based operator in Fort Worth, BCycle.

Still unable to decide a direction — and it was taking a lot of time at their meetings — the commission chose four of its members to further vet the issue and then report back. Commission chairman Jason Lamers will also head the subcommittee.

The group should begin meeting in May. Part of the process will be to review what other cities have done. And that could mean waiting until some of those cities have completed pilot programs, he said.

"We're all going in with an open mind," Lamers said.

The commission began looking into the issue after some dockless programs last year started putting their bikes in Fort Worth without permission.

So far, most of the opposition to allowing the dockless companies has come from downtown civic and business leaders, some who have invested money in the BCycle program, which is primarily downtown and in the near west and south sides.

BCycle does not serve all areas of Fort Worth, such as the Alliance Corridor and east Fort Worth, where the commission has indicated in its discussions is in need of transportation options. BCycle said it does not have the money for expansion at this time.

Andy Taft, president of Downtown Fort Worth Inc., recently speaking to its annual meeting attended by about 1,000 people, said Fort Worth "has sent a strong message" to the bike rental companies to come up with a business model that works better than what has been done in Dallas.

The council has not yet heard a policy recommendation or potential regulations from the advisory commission. Any recommendation would first go to the council's Infrastructure and Transportation Committee and then to the full council.

Lamers said the remark was unfortunate and that it was getting ahead of city process. But, he said if the commission chooses to recommend adding dockless programs, it will not be a free-for-all, which Dallas experienced several months ago.

"I don't want that to happen," Lamers said. However, there are residents in areas with disparities and gaps in transportation and that needs to be addressed, he said.

"It's important we all have open minds about it," Lamers said. Downtown, he said, "is a very small circle in a very large city. We need to think about that."

Jeremy Williams, a city senior planner working the commission, said the subcommittee will begin by taking a look at what other cities have experienced and how pilot programs have worked.

Sandra Baker: 817-390-7727, @SandraBakerFWST