Upper Arlington is expected to get its first bicycle-sharing stations by the end of September as part of a project to bring more than two-dozen new stations to Columbus and three suburbs.

Two years after Upper Arlington joined with Columbus, Bexley and Grandview Heights to pursue a $1 million grant from the Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission to install 26 new CoGo bike-sharing stations, the project is a go.

The grant, which has been awarded, covers 80 percent of project costs, with the four communities covering the rest. In June, Columbus City Council voted to fully fund the 26-station expansion. Agreements with Upper Arlington, Bexley and Grandview call for the suburb communities to reimburse their respective shares to Columbus.

In Upper Arlington, the city will spend $55,000 -- $11,000 per station -- to have stations installed.

They will be located at:

* Kingsdale Center, at the northwest corner of Zollinger Road and Northwest Boulevard, near the existing shared-use path.

* West Lane Avenue, in front of La Chatelaine, 1550 W. Lane Ave.

* Tremont Center, along Tremont Road near the Chef-O-Nette restaurant, 2900 Tremont Center.

* Mallway, near the northern corner of Arlington Avenue and North Mallway.

* Near the northwest corner of North Star Road and Northwest Boulevard.

"The addition of CoGo stations in Upper Arlington will provide an entirely new recreation and transportation option for Upper Arlington residents, which is significant," said Chad Gibson, Upper Arlington's senior planning officer. "Especially in recent years, the city has made substantive investments in its infrastructure; bike lanes, shared-use paths, 'sharrows' and similar improvements have been added for the benefit of the residents.

"There are also the obvious health benefits of increased physical activity."

The CoGo bike-share system allows people to rent bikes from parking stations for short trips, unlocking them with a credit card. Riders currently can purchase a 24-hour ride pass for $8, a three-day pass for $18 or an annual membership for $75.

Gibson said the stations conform to many goals of the city's master plan, such as: improving biking opportunities, expanding transit options, facilitating cycling trips and providing a comprehensive bikeway system that interconnects major activity centers and regional bike facilities to promote safe bike routes to and from the city.

In addition to Upper Arlington's five stations, Columbus will add 13 stations to its current stock of 46.

Bexley and Grandview each will receive their first four stations.

Through the expansion, 232 bikes will be added to the system.

"CoGo bike share continues to be a very popular, inexpensive, easy way to get around the city," said Brad Westall, Columbus Parks and Recreation Department planning manager. "Currently, users average over 4,000 miles per week of bike travel.

"It started as a downtown network of stations, and the No. 1 user request was that it be expanded to communities and neighborhoods farther out," he said. "By joining with Bexley, Grandview and Upper Arlington, bike share will now be available to thousands more users, reaching from Capital University to Clintonville, to Kingsdale Shopping Center to Grandview Yard to Ohio State University to Franklin Park."

In selecting locations for the Upper Arlington stations, city officials enlisted the help of 16 graduate and undergraduate students in the city and regional planning program at Ohio State University's Knowlton School of Architecture.

Gibson said visibility, proximity to bicycle infrastructure, safety, right-of-way availability, station spacing and nearby destinations and attractions were all considerations.

"The city directly benefitted from the many hours of work performed by the OSU students, who extensively studied existing bike-share systems across North America and Europe," he said. "Based on this information, coupled with city survey results and preliminary field research, areas were identified that could accommodate bike-share stations."

According to a July 2 staff report from Gibson to Upper Arlington City Council, the city likely would look to Fancyburg Park, Reed Road Park and Thompson Park as candidates for future CoGo stations, should the system be further expanded.

nellis@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekNate

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