Columbus could be the latest major U.S. city to get a bike-share program.

Columbus could be the latest major U.S. city to get a bike-share program.

The city's Recreation and Parks Commission on Oct. 10 recommended approval of a five-year, $2.2 million contract with ALTA Bicycle Share, based in Portland, Ore. The money will go toward setting up the 30 bike stations, card-swipe systems, purchase of bicycles and other startup costs, said Terri Leist, planning administrator with recreation and parks.

The plan, which could go into effect as early as May, would put 300 bicycles on the streets of downtown and surrounding neighborhoods, including the Short North, German Village and the Brewery District.

ALTA would be responsible for maintaining the program after the first year. After that, any revenues that exceed the annual operating expenses would be split 50-50 between the city and ALTA, Leist said.

Columbus City Council must approve the contract.

Alan McKnight, director of rec and parks, said bike sharing would appeal to two types of people: those who live or work downtown and out-of-town visitors.

For $5, users would get a 24-hour pass. With a simple swipe of a credit or debit card, consumers could take a bicycle to various points of interest. The system begins charging after 30 minutes. For example, those who use a bicycle for 30 to 60 minutes would pay $2. Yearly passes, $75 each, also will be offered.

"It's an opportunity to promote bicycling," McKnight said. "They've been proven to work in other cities."

Leist said there's "tremendous potential for growth."

"I think that would be the ultimate goal," she said.