Baton Rouge bikeshare planning St. Patrick’s Day launch

    The Baton Rouge bikeshare program is set to launch in March, just in time for the city’s popular St. Patrick’s Day Parade, says Baton Rouge Area Foundation Executive Vice President John Spain.

    Speaking at the Baton Rouge Area Chamber’s monthly luncheon this afternoon, Spain said Gotcha—the South Carolina bikeshare company selected to implement the program—will begin the rollout with 500 bikes and 50 docks. Plans are to eventually grow the program to 800 bikes and 80 docks, located at several spots throughout the city.

    “We’re going to launch bikeshare probably on St. Patrick’s Day,” Spain said. “Why not have a bunch of bikes in the parade?”

    BRAF has long been a supporter of the initiative, funding a bikeshare study and creating a Baton Rouge Bikeshare nonprofit in 2016. Having more transportation options in the city, Spain said, is vital to keeping young people in Baton Rouge.

    The bikes can be accessed through the Gotcha app. The cost of using the vehicles has not yet been announced, Spain said, but should be soon.

    The Gotcha bikes will be GPS enabled so the company can locate them if they are misplaced, Spain adds. The company will also be in charge of operations, maintenance and management of the bikes and docks.

    In October, the Metro Council and Mayor Sharon Weston Broome agreed to execute a $800,000 contract with Gotcha, with a federal grant paying for 80% of program costs and the city-parish putting up the remaining 20%.

    The bikeshare program was one of several BRAF-supported initiatives Spain touched on at the BRAC luncheon, also discussing two high-profile projects BRAF has been involved with for years: the Baton Rouge lakes project and the proposed passenger rail connecting Baton Rouge to New Orleans.

    Recently, BRAF suggested the city-parish park’s department, BREC, put up $5 million to help jumpstart the dormant effort to dredge the City Park and LSU lakes. In early November, BREC officials said they are considering the request, but no decision has been made.

    “I think we’re close to getting funding to start the process,” Spain said today.

    Funding is also one of the missing pieces of the passenger rail proposal, which has been discussed for more than 10 years but has never gotten off the ground. Spain said he did not have any updates on securing funding for the rail.

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