Editor’s note: This article was originally published November 12, 2013
Austin will get a glimpse of its new bike sharing system Wednesday, when officials show off some of the heavy-duty bicycles and disclose the location of the first stations.
Eleven stations will open with a total of 110 rental bikes on Dec. 21. Another 30 stations will open by March 1, boosting the total number of bicycles to 400, said Elliott McFadden, executive director of Austin B-cycle.
Austin B-cycle, a non-profit organization, is partnering with the city of Austin to build the system using a $1.5 million federal grant matched by $500,000 in local private donations.
"A lot of people see this as a missing link in making alternative transportation more viable in Austin," McFadden said. "Once we build up the system by early next year, this going to be the easiest, fastest way to get from point A to point B downtown. It will change way people can access downtown and surrounding areas."
Bike share customers will be able to buy a day pass at any station or purchase an annual membership to the system online, then borrow bikes using their membership cards. Rates will be announced Wednesday.
City officials first began talking about putting in a bike sharing system in 2011. At the time, they said a system of 30 stations and 300 bikes would cost about $1.8 million, plus operating costs of about $225,000 per year. That system could expand to 70 stations and 700 bikes, they said at the time.
Officials hope to have all 41 stations open in time for South By Southwest music festival.