Mayor Annise Parker today announced Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Texas (BCBSTX) has committed $750,000 to expand Houston B-cycle, sharing the City’s commitment to provide healthy transportation alternatives to residents.
“We are excited and proud of our new partnership with Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Texas,” said Mayor Annise Parker. “Bike Share is a great new transportation program for Houston and with the support of BCBSTX we are able to expand our pilot into a thriving program, providing a real commuter and recreational transportation option for workers, residents and visitors, improving health and quality of life.”
Part of the BCBSTX mission is to promote the health and wellness of Texas communities. The Houston Bike Share program is a perfect opportunity for Houstonians and visitors to Houston to have fun and take care of their families’ health at the same time.
“We are excited to partner with the Mayor and Houston Bike Share to continue transforming Houston into a healthier, more active and innovative city of the future,” says Bert Marshall, President, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Texas. “Supporting Houston’s Bike Share Program is part of our commitment to the Texas cities where we live, play and work. We hope this investment will help Houston children and families, not only find more convenient transportation, but get healthy and stay healthy through increased, fun physical activity.”
Houston Bike Share is an active transportation alternative for the City. Houston’s initial phase has been successful, and, thanks to funding support from BCBSTX and the US Department of Energy, will now grow to 200 bikes in downtown and other Houston neighborhoods, with a third phase in the planning stage. Pollution, traffic, and rising oil costs are just a few of the reasons why Houstonians need options for getting around.
Houston B-cycle, now available at City Hall, Market Square Park, and the George R. Brown Convention Center, will be expanded from 3 to 24 stations and from 18 to 200 bicycles. This Phase II expansion will create a presence not only in Downtown (with 16 stations), but also in Midtown, Montrose and the Museum District with four of the stations located at key METRORail stops. The self-service B-cycle stations will be available from 6 am to 11 pm every day. Bikes can be checked out during these hours and dropped back at the same location or any other B-cycle station.
Phase III expansion discussions and planning include the Texas Medical Center and local universities, as well as additional neighborhoods.
Houston B-cycle is a membership driven bike share system. Memberships are available by day, week or year. All members have unlimited access to the bikes. The grey and red B-cycles are specially designed for all riders – short or tall, thanks to an easy-to-use adjustable seat post. Fenders, skirt guards and chain guards keep clothes clean. Automatic lights help keep riders visible and safe. All bikes are equipped with a lock and basket. Riders can take the bike anywhere and lock it up, even if no kiosk is available.
All are equipped with Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) and GPS technology, the most advanced bike share system available in the U.S. Annual and weekly members can track their mileage, calories burned and fuel savings through the website www.houston.bcycle.com.
Houston’s program is managed and operated by Houston Bike Share, a non-profit whose mission is to implement, expand and operate a Houston-based bike share program that will be environmentally friendly, financially sustainable and affordable. Bike Barn will assist with maintenance for the B-cycle stations and bikes. The Houston B-cycle Phase I program is being funded through the US EPA’s Climate Showcase grant. Phase II and III expansion will be funded through the generous sponsorship of Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Texas and the US DOE’s ARRA stimulus dollars. Additional support comes from Bike Houston; Bike Barn; Downtown District; Houston First; the City of Houston Office of Sustainability and the Houston Parks and Recreation Department.