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Emanuel Calls For Large-Scale Bike-Sharing Program

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Chicago's "B-Cycle" bike sharing program launched in July 2010 offered rental bicycles at a number of tourist locations. The city is looking to expand the program to 3,000 bikes and 300 stations for summer 2012. (Credit: CBS)

Chicago’s “B-Cycle” bike sharing program launched in July 2010 offered rental bicycles at a number of tourist locations. The city is looking to expand the program to 3,000 bikes and 300 stations for summer 2012. (Credit: CBS)

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UPDATED 03/15/12 – 10:19 a.m.

CHICAGO (CBS) — Mayor Rahm Emanuel wants the city to hire an Oregon-based company to run the city’s first large-scale bike sharing program, which he proposed at the City Council meeting Wednesday.

The city wants to offer people an affordable option for extra transportation, for instance, during the last leg of their trips downtown by bike.

As WBBM Newsradio Political Editor Craig Dellimore reports, the city already has a limited, privately-run bike-sharing program, but the mayor wants to team with Oregon-based Alta Bicycle Share Inc. to launch a massive effort in Chicago.

LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio Political Editor Craig Dellimore reports

The mayor is seeking to have 3,000 available at 300 bike sharing stations in the city.

For an annual fee of $60 to $85, people could have unlimited rides of up to 30 minutes at a time, or pay a small hourly rate beyond that.

Emanuel also wants a component to train young people to fix bikes.

“What I’m also excited about because, A, I had something to do with it and I made the suggestion; but it’s also going to be different than others. We’re actually going to have an apprentice program for kids to learn how to fix bikes.

“Kids in disadvantaged communities will get the chance of learning a trade and a skill that will be, actually, make them employable. I’ve studied what London did, I’ve studied what D.C. has done. No other city, at least of those two, have what we’re doing,” Emanuel said.

The mayor would like the program to begin by this summer.

Alta was selected unanimously over two other candidates, by a committee composed of representatives of the Chicago Transit Authority, the Chicago Department of Procurement Services, and the Chicago Department of Transportation.

The solar-powered bicycle docking stations would be placed about a quarter mile apart in congested areas of the city. The stations will be modular and mobile, and thus can be expanded or moved if necessary, the Mayor’s office said.

The program will be funded initially by federal grants intended for programs to reduce traffic congestion and improve the quality of the air.

Chicago smaller-scale’s “B-Cycle” bike sharing program launched in July 2010, under retired Mayor Richard M. Daley. That program offers rental bicycles at a number of tourist locations.

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