Houston To End Bike Share Program

Lacking the funding it needs to continue, Houston’s BCycle bike share system will end operations in the coming months.

1 minute read

September 18, 2023, 10:00 AM PDT

By Diana Ionescu @aworkoffiction

Close-up of red Houston BCycle bike share bikes parked at a station

Houstonbcycle / Wikimedia Commons

After a rough few years and a failure to secure the funding needed to continue the program, Houston’s BCycle bike share program is shuttering in the next two months. In an opinion piece for the Houston Chronicle, Neeraj Tandon and James Llamas, two volunteer directors on the board of Houston Bike Share, the nonprofit that operates the system, call the decision heartbreaking.

Outlining the history of Houston’s bike share system, the authors explain how the system got to where it is today—and how it can be revived in the future. “During the 2020 COVID pandemic, Houstonians flocked to bicycling and BCycle for safe, socially distanced fitness, recreation and transportation. Our annual ridership peaked at over 300,000 trips.” But this came at a cost: “with a network more heavily focused on transportation, rather than recreation, revenue did not keep pace. Sponsorships dried up. Meanwhile, our bikes and stations were aging and required more maintenance and repair.”

Ultimately, the authors note, “our experience has also shown that rental fees alone can’t support a robust bike share system here. It requires ongoing support, similar to the support taxpayers provide to fund mass transit.” Although the system will end operations over the next couple of months, “At the City of Houston’s request, BCycle’s equipment remains in the field.” All it takes to turn it back on is proper funding.

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