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Phoenix council member pushes for more pedal bike rentals downtown

By Christina Estes
Published: Tuesday, February 6, 2024 - 4:26pm

Dockless bikes in Phoenix
City of Phoenix
Dockless bikes.

A Phoenix city councilwoman wants to make certain bicycles more accessible downtown, but there could be financial challenges.

When Phoenix launched its micromobility program, vendors set up areas where people can rent electric scooters and electric bikes. The program also calls for traditional pedal bikes to be offered — and they are, but they have to be reserved 24 hours in advance, referred to as the library system.

“We have said several times we do not want the library system,” Councilwoman Laura Pastor said during a subcommittee meeting. “I don’t know how much more clearer I need to get into saying we want traditional bikes in the downtown area.”

Deputy City Manager Alan Stephenson said staff would work on a request for proposals but added, “The cities that are more like ours, in terms of less, less dense but have some light rail components and those things, they’re actually paying for bike service. The industry as a whole is not looking at pedal bikes, you know, as they once were.”  

Pastor suggested staff explore potential sponsorships and public-private partnerships. 

Spin and Lime are the vendors in Phoenix micromobility program. Spin currently provides traditional pedal bikes at no charge between 7 a.m. and 4 p.m. with at least 24-hour advance reservation. Riders must return the bike to an address provided by Spin. According to a city report, “Lime is still experiencing delays in launching their library rental system for traditional bicycles due to extended delivery times and device shortages.” 

The report, provided to the council, said overall demand for traditional pedal bikes is low, citing a 2022 Shared Micromobiilty State of the Industry Report released by the North American Bikeshare Association. It found e-bikes are ridden 56% more than pedal bikes in systems that offer both.

“To provide traditional bicycles in a bikeshare model, this would typically require a city to provide vendor funding in order to provide this service," according to a staff report to the council.

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