LINCOLN PARK — A group of bike enthusiasts met Tuesday to map out potential locations for the 35 bike share stations that will be coming to the neighborhood in the spring of 2013, when the city's bike share program is scheduled to launch.
The plan is to put the stations a maximum of about a quarter mile from the next closest bike shares, but Ald. Michele Smith will have the final say.
The group hopes that Lincoln Park and Old Town residents who would normally drive to work because of the long walk to an "L" station will instead hop on a bike and make use of the public transit system.
"It's not geared for tourists. It's really meant for residents," said Michelle Stenzel, a 44-year-old Lincoln Park resident and member of the mayor's Bicycle Advisory Council. "The idea is it's really part of the transportation system."
The group's ideas focused on placing stations near cultural landmarks such as the Lincoln Park Zoo and the Chicago History Museum, as well as throughout residential neighborhoods and near every "L" station and bus stop.
Come spring, there will be 3,000 bicycles stationed at 300 bike share stations across the city in an area bordered by Montrose Avenue to the north, Damen Avenue to the west and 39th Street to the south. A year after the initial launch, the city plans to add another 100 stations and 1,000 bikes.
The city intended to roll out the program late this summer, but since delaying the launch until the spring, has created a website for residents to suggest locations of the bike stations.
"It's probably good that this got delayed," said Harry Wray, a former professor at DePaul University who focuses on the politics of bicycles. "If you have this opening in the spring, it's good timing."
Many streets in the 43rd Ward, such as North Avenue, are considered dangerous for inexperienced and first-time city bikers, and cyclists such as 38-year-old Michael Reynolds think the mass of new bicyclists and the foreseen accidents that will occur will force the city to make streets more bike friendly.
Reynolds, who manages Performance Bicycle at 2720 N. Halsted St., said that dropping the bike share program into a city that he believes largely remains unsafe for bicyclists might be putting the cart before the horse, but he hopes the bike option will transform the city and its transportation system.
"If you are trying to get to the airport, or it's rainy and you don't want to lock your bike up outside, it makes sense," he said.