Bike share planning in Holland put on hold to look for funding

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A committee working to bring bike share to Holland has instead moved its focus to promoting the use of bike lanes. Sentinel File

 Tuesday

Posted Mar 28, 2017 at 6:10 PMUpdated Mar 28, 2017 at 6:10 PM

Instead, members of the committee will promote the use of bike lanes in the city during upcoming events.

By Sydney.Smith@hollandsentinel.com 616-546-4219

After several committee meetings, plans for a bike share program in Holland are being put on hold while funds for the potential program are being sought.

Instead, members of the committee will promote the use of bike lanes in the city during upcoming events, in order to create a “bike culture” that would lead to bike share becoming more successful.

“(You need) the basics of explaining how to use (bike lanes), make it less mechanical and make it about the emotional response, breaking the barriers that keep people from trying new things,” said Jay Niewiek, executive director of The Spoke Folks, a Grand Rapids-based nonprofit which promotes access to bikes.

Niewiek has been helping the Holland committee plan for a bike share pilot program, but many questions need to be answered before rolling a program out, including where funding would come from, making committee members think a program is at least a year out.

Since December, the committee has been discussing bike share after a survey showed resident and visitor interest.

Interim Director of the Downtown Development Authority Amy Sasamoto has been working to find sponsorships for the program or different businesses that could help take licenses and credit cards to hold while a user rides the bike.

Starting with the Courtyard Marriott downtown, Sasamoto said the conversation was positive, but more research needs to be done.

“I think we both walked away from that thinking further research needed to be done on how exactly this would work with someone being responsible,” she said.

There was also talk of sponsorships, like businesses or organizations funding a bike rack or signage on the bikes themselves.

“From a city standpoint it’s going to be hard for the city to proceed and be the sole funder,” Sasamoto said. “We would have to depend on someone making a sizable contribution to it.”

Instead of rushing funding for a pilot program this year, the committee shifted toward promoting bike lane use, especially with the addition of a bike lane on Ninth Street, at various events. Sasamoto said with no major construction happening near the bike lanes this year, Holland should be relatively bike-friendly.

Members discussed promoting bike lanes with marketing materials, and with rides during events like Earth Week, which takes place the week of April 17, and Green Commute Week, beginning May 14.

“Events are what bring people’s awareness,” said Mayor Nancy DeBoer. “We’ve got to make it accessible and understandable and fun.”

The next bike share committee meeting will take place at 1 p.m. on April 11, tentatively in the training room at City Hall, 270 S. River Ave.

— Follow this reporter on Twitter @SentinelSydney.

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