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 Recreation and Parks Commission Wednesday, Oct. 10, recommended approval of a five-year, $2.2- million contract with ALTA Bicycle Share, based in Portland, Ore.

The money will pay for setting up the 30 bike stations, card-swipe systems, purchase of bicycles and other start-up costs, said Terri Leist, recreation and parks planning administrator.

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

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

The contract must still be approved by Columbus City Council.

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

For $5, users get a 24-hour pass. With a simple swipe of a credit or debit card, consumers can take a bicycle to various points of interest. The bikes then must be returned to one of the bike stations by the end of the 24 hours.

The system begins charging additional fees after 30 minutes. For example, those who use a bicycle for 30 to 60 minutes will pay $2. Additional charges will accrue beyond 60 minutes.Yearly passes, which will cost $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.