German Village Gazette

Committee debates locations of bike-sharing kiosks

Village in line to get three of the 30 kiosks planned in the city's bike-share program starting in July

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As Columbus prepares to introduce a downtown bike-sharing program this summer, German Village is slated to get up to three stations.

But whether local civic officials, residents and business can agree where to put them is another matter.

Brad Westall, greenways planner with the city's Recreation and Parks Department, said the city had proposed a trio of high-profile spots for the bike stalls: at Third and Sycamore streets in front of Starbucks; at Fifth and Kossuth streets near Schmidt's Restaurant und Sausage Haus; and at Mohawk and Reinhard Avenue near Schiller Park. A fourth less visible option was suggested at Giant Eagle on East Whittier Street.

Westall and Nick Senna, who also is with rec and parks, made their presentation March 14 to the German Village Society's long-range planning committee. The plan is to install 30 kiosks downtown and surrounding neighborhoods, from Franklinton to the King-Lincoln Arts District and from German Village to the Short North.

The 6-by-30-foot or 6-by-40-foot kiosks will hold 10 to 15 bikes each, for about 300 bikes total in the system.

The bike-sharing program got off the ground last year when the city approved a five-year, $2.2 million contract with ALTA Bicycle Share, based in Portland, Ore.

ALTA will be responsible for the management, maintenance and operation of the program, while the city will own the system. The devices are operated on a credit-card system, and users are charged in increments after 30 minutes. Westall said that's good for the riders because they can jump from station to station without paying to ride.

Members of the long-range planning committee expressed concern with each site and suggested alternate locations in front of the Meeting Haus, on the Golden Hobby Shop property, which is owned by the city, and to a less busy location near Schiller.

They said they weren't opposed to one near Schmidt's, but not on the street as it is currently proposed, because it would take up valuable parking spaces.

"I don't think anything on the streets would get a lot of support," committee chairman Matt Eshelbrenner said.

Westall said the city is flexible but timing is of the essence, as the program will get rolling in July.

"What can really sink this is, the clock will tick," he said.

To add another wrinkle, it was unclear whether the bike stalls would have to be approved by the German Village Commission, the local architectural review board, or if the city has authority to place them wherever it sees fit.

Westall said it is the city's intention to get the consent of local communities but wasn't sure if the architectural review process applied.

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