BILLINGS – City council members are discussing the possibility of adding a bike and scooter sharing program for downtown and the MSU Billings area.
Bike and scooter sharing programs are offered in metropolitan areas across the country where people can rent a bike or scooter for short periods of time, ride to their destination, and then drop the bike or scooter in a designated location. Before implementing such a program in Billings, the city council must determine whether it makes sense for the city.
“Accepting the study does not mean that we will implement bicycle sharing tomorrow,” said active transport planner Elyse Month. “This is a framework so that we know what is possible in Billings and what would work well. Obviously we don’t want to do something that works well in a big city but doesn’t work well in Billings. That was our idea.”
The city of Missoula has already declined to implement a similar idea, and a public survey by Billings found mixed support for the program, with around 53% of respondents saying they would be interested in participating. Two major concerns for the city of Billings are safety and poor infrastructure in the city center.
“But I know that after working with Billings in previous plans, a lot is being done to implement facilities – from the master plan for hiking trails and bike paths – and that is constantly being improved,” said Mack Drzayich of Alta Planning + Design, Inc.
Similar bike sharing programs exist in over 100 cities across America. Studies have shown that sharing bikes and scooters helps cities reduce emissions, complement existing transportation systems, provide more options for residents, and improve a community’s overall health.
A private company called Blink Rides implemented a scooter share program in Bozeman, which quickly started in July 2019. The fleet of scooters was taken off the streets for the winter, but a new batch was reintroduced into the city in the summer of 2020.
Billings City Council will work with the Policy Coordinating Committee to take final action on the plan in mid-March. Before doing this, they examine various financing options and potential partnerships that could help implement a scooter share program.