In an effort to address first- and last-mile connectivity to its system, the Metropolitan Transit Authority of Harris County will take over the operation of Houston BCycle, Houston’s only bike-sharing program.

The METRO board voted to commence the bike-sharing initiative during its Jan. 26 meeting.

Houston BCycle, operated by Houston Bike Share, a nonprofit organization, brought bike-sharing to the region in 2012. The system, at its peak, included a maximum of around 1,000 bikes throughout approximately 150 stations and over 2,100 bike docks. Around 90% of its users do so for recreation rather than transportation.

“METRO’s plan would be to change that to make transit interconnectivity more the focus and more the driver of how this bike-sharing network is being used,” METRO Chief Financial Officer George Fotinos said during a Jan. 18 public safety committee meeting.

Houston Bike Share made the decision to suspend 75 of its 150 stations Jan. 1 due to financial concerns. It then approached METRO with an opportunity to add bike-sharing to its transit system. METRO has previously marketed Houston BCycle as a first- and last-mile transit alternative.

The agency will now work with Houston Bike Share on developing a six- to nine-month transition plan, with the objective of adapting the existing bike-share footprint to complement METRO’s transit system, Fotinos said.

“Connecting bicycles to METRO’s transit system has been identified as one of the key strategies to grow local ridership and build use of the system,” Fotinos said.

The board mentioned expanding the system’s usage to include children commuting to school and adding tricycles for seniors or those otherwise unable to ride a bicycle.

“I think it’s time to take a fresh look at how the service is provided. I want to emphasize equity. I want to emphasize connectivity. I want to emphasize access,” METRO CEO Thomas Lambert said at the Jan. 18 meeting.

While the current agreement is short-term, an action plan will be brought to the board at the end of the transition period, Lambert said.