Delray Beach Looks Toward Alternative Modes Of Transportation

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Staff report
Delray Beach is looking to add more ways for people to get around besides their cars.
The city already has dedicated golf cart parking and promotes the use of the free downtown trolley. But it is now looking into adding a bicycle sharing program and possibly pedicabs.
At a recent commission meeting, commissioners agreed to move forward with plans to add a bicycle sharing program in the city. The program won’t raise the city any money nor will it cost the city any money.
Bicycle sharing is common throughout European cities and other destinations where people can rent bicycles and hop on and off of them at various stations. Technology is often incorporated into the program so riders can check on an app where stations are located and if there is an available bike.
City staff will spend the next eight months coming up with a plan that outlines where the stations will be located, what technology will be used, how much rentals will cost and other logistics.
Two companies responded to the city’s request to add a bike sharing program, P3 Global Management and Zagster. Commissioners agreed with staff’s recommendation to rank P3 Global highest and enter into negotiations with the company, which operates the program in West Palm Beach. The agreement will have to come before commissioners for approval.
While commissioners recognize they need to promote other modes of transportation in the city, there is concern about the program and whether the city should add more bicyclists to the streets.
Some say they want to see the stations located off of Atlantic Avenue even though it may look charming to see a bicycle program downtown.
“Atlantic is just too crowded with stuff,” said Colony Hotel owner Jestena Boughton.
Bicyclists are excited to implement a bike share program, but they have concerns about the number of bicycle accidents in the city and the city’s infrastructure to handle more bicyclists.
“I ride my bike downtown it’s very dangerous,” said resident Christina Morrison.
Delray’s principal transportation professional Xavier Falconi said these are all concerns he has heard before. He was instrumental in implementing Miami Beach’s bike share program in 2008.
He said the concerns are deja vu for him and he knows how to address the potential problems.
“I just don’t want to see us do something that is going to cause us more problems,” Commissioner Shelly Petrolia said.
Delray’s Environmental Services Department Director John Morgan said every year the city is adding more bike lanes.
Commissioners said they look forward to seeing the plan the company comes up with even though they have some reservations about the program.
“I like the idea of starting small,” Mayor Cary Glickstein said. “We have to think differently. This car centric mentality is not going to get us in the right place.”
Commissioners will also hear a proposal to allow pedicabs to operate in the city. And when the item is brought up for discussion, it won’t be the first time commissioners hear the pitch.
Delray Bike Club President Patrick Halliday first proposed adding pedicabs as a way to get around downtown in May 2015.
His proposal included adding several pedicab drivers who would serve as ambassadors for the city by pointing out places to eat and activities.
At a recent Downtown Development Authority meeting Halliday said the pedicabs have a motor-electric assist that brings the speed up to par with a golf cart. He also said there are apps that can be used to hail them similar to picking up an Uber or Lyft.
His idea includes placing them in designated areas so they aren’t blocking traffic. The drivers would operate on tips.
“It’s the ambiance of being chauffeured,” he said.
When commissioners first heard the proposal they wanted more information before making a decision.
Delray had pedicabs for a trial period in 1998 and police records indicated pedicab drivers weren’t obeying traffic laws. But the department’s recommendation in 2015 supported trying the program again, according to city records.
The city hasn’t scheduled a meeting to discuss the pedicabs, but it will likely take place during a workshop meeting.