Redmond is already a place with a bike-friendly reputation, as evidenced by its recent promotion to a silver-level League of American Bicyclists community as well as its longstanding, self-proclaimed title of "Bicycle Capitol of the Northwest."
But getting around downtown by bike could get even easier in five years when the newly formed nonprofit Puget Sound Bike Share plans to bring bike-sharing stations to Redmond. The group's initial proposal calls for 10 stations in Redmond, each with about 10 bicycles.
Bike sharing is a short-term rental system that has already been implemented in several European and U.S. cities, including Denver, Minneapolis, New York and Washington, D.C. Most programs include several unattended stations scattered throughout a given area, enabling riders to travel between various destinations without having to return the bikes to the same location.
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Puget Sound Bike Share, which will serve as the non-profit administrative organization behind the system, plans to begin opening rental stations in the city of Seattle sometime next year. (Click here to see PDF of entire business plan.) Phase 3 of the program would include both downtown Redmond and the Microsoft campus, as well as Kirkland, Bellevue and Renton, and is tentatively scheduled to roll out in 2017.
Joel Pfundt, a principal planner with the City of Redmond, is serving on the board of directors for Puget Sound Bike Share. He said many of the details for the Redmond segment of the system are still being worked out, including where the bike stations would be located and the exact timeline for implementing Phase 3.
"It depends a lot on the level of success in Seattle," he said.
But whenever bike share makes its way to Redmond, Pfundt said he believes it will be an attractive part of the city's growing transportation network. Current projects like the Redmond Central Connector and the 164th Avenue Northeast extension are already being designed to accomodate bicyclists—and the downtown area's relatively flat topography doesn't hurt, either, Pfundt said.
"It's a pretty exciting, natural fit for Redmond," he said.
Nuts and bolts
Most bike share systems use a pricing system that offers 24-hour passes for $10-$15, as well as monthly and annual membership options. Many also have a "free ride" period of 30 to 60 minutes. The proposed rate for Puget Sound Bike Share is $5 for a 24-hour pass, $30 for a monthly membership, and $75 for an annual membership, according to the organization's business plan.
Pfundt said he expects both residents and visitors alike will find a use for bike share in downtown Redmond. People who work near city hall, for example, could use a rented bike to get to Redmond Town Center for lunch. Out-of-towners staying in a downtown hotel could take one out for a spin on the Sammamish River Trail.
Some potential issues—including how to comply with King County's helmet law—are still being worked out by Puget Sound Bike Share. But Pfundt said the local system will be able to benefit from technology that has already been developed to solve other problems, such as how to notify the vendor when there is a problem with one of the bicycles.
"They really have made them pretty elaborate and pretty cool," he said.