Why Bikeshare Will Work in Indy

Three mostly unscientific but logical reasons.

That was fast. We’re barely over our PTSD from the historically awful winter, and already—today—public bikes debut downtown. Indiana Pacers Bikeshare goes live this afternoon with 250 rentals in 25 stations, concentrated in the central business district and along the Cultural Trail. In most cities, bikeshare is working—that’s why nearly every metro area in the country either has it or is developing it. And here are three reasons to be even more gung-ho about its prospects in Indianapolis.

1. It will make money.

Bikeshare programs make revenue off of the occasional user—those who buy day passes and go sightseeing with it. They don’t make money off the annual memberships or the rides members take. Why? Because the pricing structure is set up to reward short trips that get the bikes back in circulation quickly. The first half-hour is free, the second costs $2, and each half-hour thereafter costs $4. People with an annual membership almost always keep their rides under 30 minutes. In contrast, visitors are more likely to rent a bike for a few hours and toodle to the canal, the Indiana War Memorial, and Mass Ave. We don’t envision much competition for the bikes stationed by hotels, especially in the evenings and on weekends, so when visitors want one, chances are they’ll be able to find one. And Indy welcomes 26 million visitors each year. Cha-ching.

2. We built the infrastructure first.

Many cities are holding off on bikeshare until they have trails and bike lanes to support it. We already have it in the Cultural Trail, and it’s not just infrastructure—it’s beckoning and safe infrastructure.

3. The technology works.

The Cultural Trail team went with B-Cycle, a company with a great track record in the 23 other cities that use it. New York’s Citi Bike, which has experienced a lot of software glitches, runs on Alta Bicycle Share’s platform. Here, we’re unlikely to run into the highly publicized snafus New Yorkers did, such as difficulty freeing a bike from its dock or putting it back.