Nashville’s New Bike Share: Coming this fall

Today during my lunch break I went to get a little preview of Nashville’s long-awaited bike share system at one of the kiosks they’re setting up around town this week. There seemed to be a good bit of interest, with people popping in and out the whole time I was there. Bcycle, which runs bike shares in several other cities across North America, including Chicago, Houston, Denver and Madison, will be in charge of the program, and a representative told me they will be rolling out with 200 bikes in 20 locations, centered on the downtown core, “sometime this fall.” I took one of the bikes out for a little spin.

Nashville's bcycle bike share bikes


They’re Trek bikes. All the testers (which were from various city bikeshare programs—mine was from Omaha!) had 3 speed Nexus hubs, skirt guards, chain cases, lights and fenders. Some had baskets and racks, some just baskets. Mine had a front and side basket, as well as a rear rack.

Shimano Nexus 3-speed shifter

The Bcycle people said that bringing some of the 7-speed Treks in to Nashville, once the share is launched, is a possibility.

Fits my PoCampo! Apologies for the finger.

It was hotter than hell, high noon, and the station was in a somewhat awkward area (a parking lot hemmed in by one-way streets and streets that are not bike friendly, aka Broadway and West End) so I only went around the block a couple of times. But the bike had a nice, relaxed seating position, almost like a beach cruiser, and was easy to ride in my dress and heels.

Me and the bike share

They’re still finalizing the pricing structure for Bcycle in Nashville, but as with other bike shares, the first 30 minutes of use will be free, and you can purchase daily or annual memberships.

Nashville's bcycle bike share bike, rear wheel

Rear wheel with skirt guard, chain case and fender

Locations are still TBD as well. Jonathan, the representative I spoke with, mentioned they were hoping to get one at the foot of the Capitol building (great visibility for the program), and that there’d be at least two on the Vanderbilt campus, and probably some in East Nashville.

That spread of locations doesn’t sound like it would make for density to me: Vandy to East Nashville would mean a five-mile radius at least, which is a pretty big area for just 20 stations and 200 bikes. This Tennessean article says there will be kiosks every 1.5 miles, which is not close enough. To be fair, while that 1.5-mile figure seems in line with the distances they are talking about covering and the number of stations they’ll have to start, it does not line up with what the Jonathan from Bcycle told me, which was that he thinks you should be able to practically see one station from the previous one. So who knows what we’ll end up with?

Although I would love to have this service in East Nashville, in my opinion it would be a better idea to put more stations on this side of the river and make it useful for people and save that side for stage 2. Bike share programs suffer from the same problems as other forms of public transportation—initial rollout is limited, which limits the usefulness, which limits usage, which causes people to say that the system has failed. Here’s hoping that the Nashville bike share will be able to gain traction.

If you are in Nashville, there are two more demos (tomorrow in East Nashville, and Friday at the Farmer’s Market), so check them out if you have a chance.

{ For more on bike sharing, Dottie posted about her experience with Bcycle in Denver, and I wrote about our time with Vélib‘. }

  • Karin Dalziel

    Funny, I have been meaning to try the bike share in Omaha. They put theirs in really inconvenient locations, though, so I have not had the chance yet.

    • Trisha

      Oh, bummer. If you give it a try, let us know how it went! I’m hoping that won’t be the way things pan out in Nashville.

  • anniebikes

    I’ve used the BIXI bike share in Montreal. With only three gears I must say I was impressed with the low ratio that handled the city’s the hills with ease. Hats off to Nashville for wanting to try this new service. Having lots of stations in a high density area seems like the first step. High visibility  means high usage and thus excitement to try…

    • Judyb

      I too took advantage of the BIXI while in Montreal this summer, Annie. It was tremendous! I hope Nashville’s is similar!!!

    • Trisha

      Totally agree!

  • Lauren

    East Nashville doesn’t need the bike share – EVERYONE over there has a bike! Haha! I also think they should start with downtown/midtown & then expand from there. Hopefully, the introduction of all these bikes will also mean more bike lanes/bike-friendly routes in the future as well :)

    • Trisha

      Yes, I hope that is the case! I know it’s worked that way in other cities.

  • Jeff

    I used B-Cycle on a trip to Denver and they’ve done a great job building the infrastructure. This meant stations within blocks of each other in the downtown core, with progressively fewer stations as you move outward. However, we were still able to spend three days in Denver and never touch a car. The 3-speed Nexus hub is awesome and made getting around town really easy, despite some pretty significant hills and the bikes weighing like 200 pounds!

    I think the prevalence of bike lanes/routes also made it much easier to get around. As Trish pointed out, that might be a challenge for us here in Nashville!

    • Trisha

      Good to hear positive feedback on the Denver share. I know Dottie had a good experience with it too. Hopefully our Bcycle project will be more like Denver’s and less like Chicago’s!

  • Bike Lane Living

    I love the idea and it sounds like the BCycle is works great for Denver (based on the comments below) but it’s success will depend on how accessible it is for the users. Hopefully I’ll see this pop up in my neighborhood.

  • Melissa Stoneking

    The bike shares in Denver are pretty awesome. They just expanded this year to be at more parks. Just like Jeff said, Denver is bike friendly anyway. So no matter what your riding, it’ll be a nice ride. 
    Those BCycles are pretty heavy and awkward. I always see people on them that seem to have forgotten how to ride a bike, that’s just how weird the BCycles are!

  • Dottie

    This is a big step for Nashville.  I’m excited to see how it goes.  Also, you look fab – love the shoes!

  • maureen

    Wow, Trek 3 speeds sound like a great way to start off!  As the program progresses, they may adjust where they place their kiosks for better access!  It’s certainly a start in the right direction.  Long Beach, NY introduced a bike share at the end of June (DecoBikes from Miami), and I I notice people riding DecoBikes every day!.  

  • maureen

    There is a 3 paragraph article in the Travel section of this weekend’s NYTimes that may interest you:  It's entitled “For Delegates in a Hurry, The Bike Lane Beckons,” It states the bike share will be ready for the Democratic National Convention scheduled next month in Charlotte, and that the program is the largest in the southeast.  

  • wmichaeljones

    This is great news!  I’m a Nashville native, living in DC these days where we have a stellar bike share program (Capitol Bikeshare).  From what I’ve observed since CaBi’s launch in DC, density is the key to success.  There have to be stations within a few blocks of each other to encourage short trips.  Also, there needs to be real time availability information for users.  CaBi has an app that uses google maps to show station locations and tells you how many bikes/docks are available.  I look forward to trying out the Nashville system when I’m there this fall!

  • maureen

    The NY TImes Travel sect ion had info on it as well this weekend:  FYI:   ”For Delegates in a Hurry, the Bike Lane Beckons,” 

  • unite tyre changer machine

    This bike really helps when it comes to business especially deliveries. In the states, riding bikes is really a good way not just to exercise but also to earn. 

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  • Ali D

    We have something similar in Charlotte!

    • LGRAB

      Another reason for me to come for a visit!!

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