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Federal money will be used to help Omaha’s bike share program double its number of stations in 2016.
A $900,000 federal grant administered through the Nebraska Department of Roads will help Heartland B-Cycle expand from 31 stations with 150 bikes to nearly 70 stations across the city, The Omaha World-Herald reported Saturday. The federal grant will cover 80 percent of the cost, and B-Cycle is raising funds for the other 20 percent.
Ben Turner, B-cycle’s coordinator, said the expansion will give Omaha more connectivity.
“Bikes are a form of transportation that can be used at any time,” Turner said.
Bike share programs are popular in major metropolitan areas for both tourists and commuters as an alternative to cars and public transit.
In Omaha, rides have increased from 2,000 in the program’s first year in 2011 to 6,700 last year, according to the Metropolitan Area Planning Agency. The program had its best weekend last month, when nearly 250 riders used the bikes during the NCAA men’s basketball tournament in Omaha.
Bike share stations are scattered in downtown, midtown and north downtown, as well as Aksarben Village.
Turner said he doesn’t yet know where the new stations will be. He said the company is working with the city and business owners to identify locations and acquire rights of way.
The new stations are expected to be within a block of bus stops and transfer stations so they can be another cog in a larger transit picture, Turner said.
Those interested in using the bike sharing program must buy a daily, monthly or annual pass. They can check out a bike from any station, ride it and return it to any station in Omaha or Council Bluffs, Iowa.
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