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Decision on OSU Bike Share Near, Concerns Raised over Connectivity

Brent Warren Brent Warren Decision on OSU Bike Share Near, Concerns Raised over ConnectivityPhoto by Walker Evans.
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An Ohio State University working group, which has been working for nearly a year on a plan to bring bike sharing to campus, is planning to announce their recommendations this month. Bids were due last week from five different vendors, including CoGo, the bike share system that launched in 2013 with 30 stations and 300 bikes in and around downtown.

Apart from the selection of a vendor, the working group will also weigh in on the form that the new bike share system will take – will it be a campus-only system, an extension of the existing CoGo system, or a hybrid system providing connectivity to other parts of the city in a different way?

The hybrid approach could involve expanding CoGo to the north, but just along High Street, providing access to the the edge of campus. Once there, users could switch to a campus-only system run by a different company. CoGo currently extends only as far north as Second Avenue in the Short North, but is hoping to expand this year.

Jordan Davis of the Columbus Partnership sits on the Student Engagement Steering Committee, a body formed by the university to bridge the gap between “town and gown.” She is concerned that the decision-makers at OSU have not grasped the impact that one seamless bike share system could have on the ability of students, faculty, staff and Columbus residents to easily travel to and from campus. She is hopeful that there is still time to influence the decision.

“Without knowing the results of the working group, my hope is that throughout their decision-making they are thinking about the student experience and the fact that so much of their learning happens beyond the confines of campus. They have such an important role to play in enabling students to have access to resources past Eleventh and Lane.”

If CoGo is not selected, or if a plan is put in place that prioritizes travel within campus over connections to surrounding neighborhoods, “it would remind us how much work we have to do to become not just two communities in one city, but one, connected community that is working together for the economic health of the region,” she said.

Davis has worked on initiatives like the annual Student Welcome Event in Nationwide Area, a tour of Columbus for Resident Advisors and a recent video targeting students that touts the city’s offerings.

“We’ve learned through activities that we’ve done that a big barrier is transportation,” she said. “Having access to a bike share program that flows seamlessly from where students live, to where they study to where they want to go will have a big impact…this is a huge investment in infrastructure that will put a stake in the ground for how students interact and get around.”

Heather Bowden, CoGo’s general manager, is hopeful that they will hear good news, and is excited about the possibility of continued growth.

“For the past year and a half we’ve provided very high quality bike share for the City of Columbus,” she said. “We think it would be wonderful to be able to provide this great transportation option for members of the OSU community and integrate the campus even more into the urban experience of Columbus with bike share.”

A spokesperson for OSU, while not sharing any details of the deliberation process, said that one of the goals laid out by the university for a potential bike share system is to offer connectivity to “other neighborhoods throughout the city.” Other goals are to “provide a sustainable active campus transportation option,” and to “conveniently and safely move people from one place to another on campus.” The last goal would support the “park once” philosophy, a key tenet of OSU’s new transportation plan.

For more information, visit www.cogobikeshare.com.

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  • It would be absolutely stupid if this isn’t part of CoGo. I thought OSU was trying to get their students to interact more with the city, but by having a separate system, any student using the system will have to stay on campus, and any student (or other resident) using CoGo cannot go to Campus. It doesn’t make even a bit of sense.

    • Not to mention that you’d have to figure out memberships to 2 systems rather than one. It would just be confusing.

  • JHammond

    From what we’ve been able to ascertain, it appears that OSU will not select CoGo and instead go with another vendor. IF this is the case, its going to be an absolute train wreck of a bad decision. I’m sure OSU will try to justify this by citing “price” or “flexibility” or something like that to cover their behinds to try and mask what a bad decision they’ve made. Having a campus-only system won’t work. Having 2 bikeshare systems operating in the city of columbus won’t work. It looks like OSU has dropped the ball big-time with this one….
    OSU = Failure

  • loudiamondtabs

    COGO is an outdated system. The bike sharing industry is moving away from very expensive station systems, and most stationed based companies are making the switch to provide a cheaper product. COGO (or more precisely Motivate, their parent company) has made no investment whatsoever. They want to keep pumping out the same overly priced, extremely expensive, outdated system, and use the issue of “connectivity” to force the hand of OSU.

    While it is true that connectivity would be great, the difference in prices between COGO and more modern systems is millions of dollars. Such large sums of money should not be sunk into an outdated product, just for the sake of connectivity.

    If OSU does not go with COGO, it is not the fault of OSU, but of Motivate’s lack of vision and investment in evolving their product line.

  • thomasjs4

    Loudiamondtabs, can you explain what other bike sharing companies in other cities are doing? You mention that COGO is outdated, but I’m curious as to what the alternatives are.

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