Nearly $850,000 in funding from the office of Harris County Precinct 1 Commissioner Rodney Ellis will help Houston’s bike-sharing program construct 30 new stations, at least half of which will be located in low-income, underserved parts of the city.
Houston BCycle, a nonprofit created by the city in 2012, announced the contribution after it was approved this week by the Harris County Commissioners Court. The organization said the funding from Ellis, an avid cyclist, also will provide 320 additional bicycles and 100 electric bikes while helping Houston BCycle grow to a total of 160 stations by 2021.
A tentative location for one of the new stations is the intersection of North Main Street and Cavalcade Street in the Heights. Stations also are planned for areas such as Downtown Houston, Northside, Kashmere Gardens, Third Ward and Fifth Ward.
“Precinct 1 and Houston BCycle share a goal of ensuring that everyone in every community has access to safe, healthy transportation that they can afford,” Ellis said in a news release from Houston BCycle. “Through our partnership we have already expanded access to BCycle to thousands of students, families and workers in our area and BCycle’s continued growth shows that there is a strong demand for this service. Precinct 1’s additional investment, approved by Commissioners Court, expands BCycle’s stations to some of our most vulnerable communities, so that access to affordable transportation can be a pathway to success for more people.”
Houston BCycle has 10 existing locations in the Heights and Washington Avenue areas. Along with the proposed North Main and Cavalcade stations, there also are tentative plans to add two stations near West 20th Street in the Heights and two in Sawyer Yards.
A total of 12 bike-sharing stations, including the ones at Stude Park in the Heights and Moody Park just east of the Heights, are temporarily closed to curb overcrowding during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Prior to the closures, Houston BCycle said its ridership figures for January and February were its highest monthly totals yet. More than 260,000 trips were recorded in 2019, according to the nonprofit.
“Even after shuttering a dozen of our highest-performing kiosks, ridership has remained strong,” said Doogie Roux, Houston BCycle’s director of operations. “We’re still seeing people make increased efforts to travel in a socially-distant, environmentally-responsible, and fun way. Our team has been working especially hard to keep the system running lately, and we’re thankful for Commissioner Ellis’ support at a time where keeping our momentum is more important than ever.”