St. Pete considers companies for bike share program

The course is now set to have the same company run both Tampa and St. Petersburg's downtown bike share programs. 

Last year, the city of Tampa chose Cyclehop to run its program. And on Tuesday, a St. Petersburg selection committee preliminarily ranked Cyclehop as the first choice. 

The selection committee will hear presentations from two top-ranked vendors next Thursday, and make its final recommendation next Friday. 

"We're trying to have a contract in place by the end of the year" transportation director Evan Mory told FOX 13.

After that, it will take about six months to fully implement the program. 

"In the interim, there could be a small pilot project or a pop-up at a special event, so you start to build some excitement" Mory said.

Karen Kress, Tampa Downtown Partnership's transportation planner, was on that city's comparable selection committee. She said Cyclehop could become a "regional bike share" operator. 

In Tampa, bike sharers prepay for a swipe card and use it and a mobile app to find and reserve bicycles. 

"The lock is on the bicycle. The solar-powered GPS is right on the bicycle, all of the technology is on the bicycle itself, so it makes it very nimble" Kress said, comparing it to other systems that require customers to borrow and return bicycles to fixed hubs. 

In this instance, the same swipe card would work on both sides of Tampa Bay. 

"It just makes it easy for people. You download one app, and you just have to say which city you're in" Kress said. "It's kind of seamless." 

She pointed out both cities now offer the same mobile app to pay parking meters.

Depending on which vendor is selected, it will cost somewhere between $1.2 and $2 million to start a bike share program in St. Petersburg. 

Mayor Rick Kriseman proposed using $1 million from its settlement over the BP oil spill, but the city council rejected that idea. Now it is not clear how the city would pay for a bike share program.