BCycle, Houston bike share program, ends after giving city additional transport options for years

Nick Natario Image
Tuesday, July 2, 2024
City's BCycle pumps the brakes on bike services after user decline
After providing the city of Houston with another means of transportation, the bike share program BCylcle is closing.

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- The brakes were hit on the city's bike share system, BCycle, after several years of serving Houston.

The video above is from a previous report.

Many riders arriving at Eleanor Tinsley Park on Monday were left confused and with dead air.

"I didn't know," Stephanie Resendiz said. "There's no sign. I was kind of bummed out. I wish it were open."

After paying for a rental, Resendiz tried to remove the bike, but it wouldn't budge. That's because the service closed over the weekend.

RELATED: Houston Bike Share program to close June 30 because it can't sustain itself, city says

"I really hoped they were open," Resendiz said. "We were trying to ride the bikes and stuff."

Apparent financial problems contributed to the program shutting down.

The bike share had a total of 300,00 users in 2020. Four years later, the program had less than 50,000 users.

"It's really difficult after so many years and really quite a bit of success showing how Houstonians will take to bikes when they're affordable and available," Houston Bike Share Vice Chair James Llamas said.

Llamas said that although the city gave the group $500,000 late last year, it was too late. He said public money is necessary for bike shares to work.

"We'll see if there's an outcry or an outpouring of support for this," Llamas explained. "What a lot of other cities have transitioned to is the public transportation agency to support and or operate the bike share program."

ABC13 asked METRO about the future of where they see this going. They told ABC13 that it is looking for new options, including bike share programs.

Although the city's service is gone, you may soon be able to rent a bike, as METRO said it is currently under review.

The Baker Institute recently looked at public transportation in Harris County.

Ridership has decreased by more than 20% since 2020. It's even worse for Park N' Ride, where usage fell by nearly 50% in January 2024 compared to January 2020.

PREVIOUS REPORT: City prevents Houston BCycle bike share program from closing by approving $540K from general fund

The survey found that 66% of residents hadn't used METRO in a year, and only one in eight used it weekly.

Researchers explained that this doesn't mean support should stop for public transportation; studies should look at generating new demand.

For some, the answer isn't buses and rails but bikes. "I think they should bring it back, to be honest," Andre Garcia said.

Houston BCycle said around ten employees will be unemployed at some point this summer. People will likely see bikes and stands for several weeks.

The city owns them after purchasing them through a grant. The bike share group said the city may sell the equipment.

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