Community

Louisville’s bike share program is facing yet another delay.

The city’s bike and pedestrian coordinator Rolf Eisinger now says the program won’t be ready until spring 2017 at the earliest — nearly two years after the original launch date in summer 2015.  

Eisinger announced the first delay in May 2015 when the launch was pushed back to summer 2016.

At the time, WFPL reported the delay was due to finalizing bike share stations, traffic management plans, acquiring any necessary state permits and finding sponsors to maintain the stations after they are installed. 

And they are still looking for sponsors, according to Eisinger.  

“We’re at the point of kind of finalizing the business plan and shoring up a few more sponsorship dollars in order for us to feel comfortable in launching a system that will be sustainable after launch,” Eisinger said.

While the cost of equipment is being covered by about $1.63 million in federal and state grants, Eisinger said the plan is to fund operation through sponsorships.

Operational costs will add up to about $650,000 a year, according to the Louisville Bike Share sponsorship brochure.

Sponsorships would cover the cost of bike repairs, station maintenance, promotional events and customer service, and the businesses in turn receive advertising space.

“We have had several entities who have vocalized support of sponsoring the system or pieces of the system,” Eisinger said. “In certain communities it might only take a few sponsors to cover the operational costs for the entire system.”

Eisinger said the delayed launch of Louisville’s bike share program has allowed the city’s urban bike paths to expand. Since the program was announced in December 2014, the city has added more bikeways and started creating “Neighborways” — or bike boulevards — on less busy streets.

The later launch date has also allowed for the bike sharing model to improve, Eisinger said.

“Not having launched right away allowed the technology to get more sophisticated — work out some of the bugs,” he said. “We get to learn lessons learned from some of the cities that have already launched, but also then we get to benefit from lessons learned on the vendor’s part.”

Once Louisville’s bike share program is complete, it will join the more than 80 U.S. cities that offer similar programs, according to the Pew Charitable Trusts.

Eisinger said the system is expected to include 30 stations, 300 bikes and will encompass downtown, Old Louisville, the University of Louisville’s Belknap campus.