The unveiling of a new bicycle-sharing station outside a Lane Avenue bistro earlier this month marked the completion of a project to install five of the docks throughout Upper Arlington.
Chad Gibson, Upper Arlington’s senior planning officer, said the stations conform to many of the goals in Upper Arlington’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 June 2016, Upper Arlington joined Columbus, Bexley and Grandview Heights in seeking a $1 million grant from the Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission to install 26 CoGo bike-sharing stations.
The CoGo bike-share system allows people to rent bikes from parking stations for short trips, unlocking them with a credit card. Riders currently may purchase a 24-hour ride pass for $8, a three-day pass for $18 or an annual membership for $75.
The $1 million grant, awarded last year, was designed to cover 80 percent of project costs, with the four communities covering the rest.
Upper Arlington City Council approved spending $55,000 last June – $11,000 per station – to have stations installed, and with a May 16 ribbon-cutting for the fifth and final 15-bike station in front of La Chatelaine French Bakery & Bistro, 1550 W. Lane Ave., the local project is complete.
“Lane Avenue was an obvious choice due to its mixed-use, walkable characteristics,” Gibson said. “The La Chatelaine station meets all of the core siting criteria, such as proximity to retail and hotel uses, high visibility, available right of way, etc.”
The four other bike-sharing stations in Upper Arlington are at:
• Kingsdale Center, at the northwest corner of Zollinger Road and Northwest Boulevard, near the shared-use path.
• Tremont Center, along Tremont Road near the Chef-O-Nette restaurant, 2900 Tremont Center.
• The Mallway, near the northern corner of Arlington Avenue and North Mallway.
• Near the northwest corner of North Star Road and Northwest Boulevard.
Gibson said each station can hold up to 15 bikes, but typically about half the docks are occupied to allow for incoming bikes.
The stations are 42 feet long and 6 feet wide. They tie in to Columbus’ existing 46-station system.
Columbus is increasing its system by another 13 stations, and Bexley and Grandview Heights are installing four more stations each.
“The city is using one side of the station kiosks for community messaging,” Gibson said. “The other side is a system map.
“We’re seeing people riding the bikes and exploring the community, as well as patronizing local businesses.”
Last week, La Chatelaine general manager Val Wielezynski said his business is supportive of the new bike station and he hopes they will be used more this summer and fall.
“So far, so good,” he said. “I haven’t seen many people using the bikes, but it does turn the eye. Maybe people will remember to come back and use them.
“I’m going to take a spin on one this weekend. My mom and dad live down on Tremont Road, and maybe I’ll go see them. I think it’s great for the community.”
Gibson has pointed to several sources, including the AARP and Advocacy Advance Bike and Walk Advancement, whose studies purport to show biking boosts economies.
According to the AARP, “the national bicycle industry contributes approximately $133 billion annually to the U.S. economy by supporting over 1 million jobs, generating nearly $18 billion in federal, state and local taxes and providing nearly $47 billion for meals, transportation and lodging purchases during bike trips and tours.”
Gibson said most public feedback regarding the stations has been positive, but one exception has been to the CoGo station at the Mallway, where it’s been opposed by William Cooper, who owns a building at 2108 Arlington Ave. on the Mallway.
It’s also been decried by one of Cooper’s tenants, Donna Rosenthal, who has operated the interior design business Bella Casa LLC for 29 years at the location, and Becky Schaughency, who has run Tennis Ltd. for 23 years next door at 2110 Arlington Ave.
Rosenthal continues to post a sign in front of her store that states, “Would you want THIS in your front yard? The city of Upper Arlington put this here without the knowledge or consent from the building owner or businesses.”
She said if the station isn’t moved by the time her lease is up at the end of the year, relocating her business is a “high consideration.”
Cooper credited City Council members for their willingness to hear his concerns and their congeniality. However, he said, he was disappointed after they told him they haven’t been able to find a better spot for the Mallway station.
“This has nothing to do with CoGo bike racks,” Cooper said. “I’m an environmental person and I have an electric car. It has to do with their location in front of my building.”
Cooper said the station is on the lot line to his property and people using the bikes encroach on his property when they take the bikes off the rack or put them back on.
“Right now, they’re taking my property,” he said. “My building is in the middle of a neighborhood. There are apartments upstairs.
“It ain’t the same as Lane Avenue, with city buses and a bustling area.
“This is a quiet, residential neighborhood, not a heavily commercialized area.”
Gibson acknowledged that Cooper has requested a location change for the CoGo station.
“The city is considering that request but has limited relocation options,” he said.
As for other future plans for CoGo, Gibson said nothing has been decided, but a previous study examining potential sites for additional stations identified Fancyburg and Thompson parks as possibilities.
“Additional public review (and) input would be needed prior to expanding the system in UA,” he said.