Cobb County is working on new rules for bike rental programs already logging hundreds of trips a week.
The Cobb County Board of Commissioners last month held the first reading of an ordinance that would require companies to obtain permits to operate in the county, and regulate where bike-sharing stations are placed. It would prohibit users from parking them in a way that would impede traffic flow or block sidewalks. The new law would also require bikes to meet federal safety standards.
The earliest county commissioners can adopt the ordinance will be at their June 25 meeting, said Eric Meyer, Cobb Department of Transportation planning division manager.
Two areas in unincorporated Cobb — Cumberland and Town Center — and the city of Smyrna have been using a pilot program with bike rental company Zagster. Cyclists can use a credit card to check out a bike from a docking station and ride for a certain amount of time for a fee calculated per hour or by the day. The bikes, some of which are electric, are returned to the station once users are done.
Other than the pilot programs underway, Meyer said the county has not had any formal expressions of interest from other companies. He said the county would like to implement an ordinance that would pave the way for an expansion of bike-sharing programs.
“We’re just trying to make sure that if they do try to come in the county and establish something, they know what the terms are,” he said.
The Town Center Community Improvement District has had its pilot program with Zagster since November 2015, said Town Center CID Executive Director Tracy Rathbone Styf. There are five stations with 40 bikes across the area, which encompasses areas around Chastain Road, Cobb Parkway, McCollum Parkway, Barrett Parkway, Bells Ferry Road, Town Center Mall, Kennesaw State University and Cobb County International Airport.
The stations are at the Bells Ferry trail head, Town Center Mall, Aviation Park, Founder's Park and Avonlea on Chastain Meadows Road. A sixth station will soon be installed at Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield Park.
A Community Improvement District is made up of commercial property owners within district boundaries who tax themselves to pay for public infrastructure projects. The Town Center CID spends about $7,800 per year per station to operate the program, Rathbone Styf said. The program has about 14,000 registered members and logs about 216 trips each week.
“It’s been an incredibly successful program, not just for us, but for Zagster and the county as well,” she said.
Kyethea Clark, director of operations for the Cumberland Community Improvement District, said its pilot program with Zagster began in August. From that month through May, the CID has logged 3,038 trips and averages about 11 trips each day. It has 1,522 active members. The CID area includes areas around The Battery, SunTrust Park, Cumberland Boulevard, Akers Mill Road, Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area and Cobb Energy Performing Arts Center.
There are three Zagster bike stations in Cumberland: the National Parks Service Paces Mill and Cochran Shoals units along the river and The Battery. The CID pays about $9,000 per station each year to maintain the program. Clark said the CID is looking to expand the number of bike-sharing docking stations within its boundaries, which will go hand-in-hand with its bike share expansion plan that would install about 13 stations around the district.
“The CID’s location presents the opportunity to create a major bike hub via our multi-use trail system that has access and connectivity to regional destinations,” she said.
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