A job posting on the City of San Antonio’s employment portal describes what the Office of Sustainability is looking for in the person that will run San Antonio B-Cycle:
“Under administrative direction, is responsible for overseeing all business operations related to San Antonio’s Bike Share program. This position will work to create a long term vision for the success of B-Cycle in San Antonio while ensuring the program’s financial sustainability. The Executive Director, while a City of San Antonio employee, will report both to the City of San Antonio’s Chief Sustainability Officer, as well as to the San Antonio Bike Share Board of Directors. Exercises direct supervision over assigned staff.”
The position’s 12-month salary ranges from $67,436.72 – $114,642.21, depending on experience. The person with the most experience, Cindi Snell, is the co-owner of Bike World and the outgoing unpaid executive director of the nonprofit San Antonio Bike Share that operates San Antonio B-Cycle.
Snell said on Friday that she will not be applying for the position. The news of her impending departure last month sparked concern that San Antonio might lose its bikeshare program entirely.
“It’s a very appropriate time to pass it on,” she said. “Now that it’s up and running, someone else can take it over.”
With surplus funds on the table, City Council unanimously approved several mid-year requests, including a one-time $121,500 payment to San Antonio B-Cycle from the Hotel Occupancy Tax and Energy Efficiency funds.
(Read more: Council Approves Funding for B-Cycle, Body Cameras, and More)
The job posting marks the beginning of a new stage in San Antonio B-Cycle’s short history. Since B-Cycle’s local launch in 2011, the City has largely stayed out of the bikeshare business. The millions of dollars it has granted to San Antonio Bike Share are federal stimulus grants – used for bikes, stations, and equipment. The City, County and regional government entities do not contribute any funding to support bikeshare. The 80/20 Foundation and Baptist Health Foundation have each contributed $50,000 grants this year, but no national company or locally-based company has shown interest in sponsoring bikeshare in the city.
In order for B-Cycle to function as it was intended with an adequate number of staff members, Snell has said the nonprofit needs $500,000 a year for the next three years. That number is low compared to other large cities with bikeshare programs. Philadelphia received an $8.5 million contribution from Independence Blue Cross to be used over the next five years, and Denver’s bike system is sponsored by health care provider Kaiser Permanente.
In a previous interview with the Rivard Report, Snell said if B-Cycle finds a branding sponsor, they will add 200 bikes and 21 stations to the downtown and surrounding areas using the $1.2 million Texas Department of Transportation (TXDOT) grant, which would increase the size of B-Cycle by 40%. She said she hopes to implement the stations in neighborhoods that connect to the core of downtown.
The B-Cycle company essentially sells bikeshare programs – it does not manage programs in the 26 cities that use B-Cycle. Most B-Cycle programs are operated by nonprofits that partner with municipalities and corporate sponsors.
Austin B-Cycle is operated by a nonprofit organization of the same name sponsored by SXSW, Whole Foods Market, Austin Community College, The Austin Chronicle, and more.
B-Cycle’s ArborBike in Ann Arbor, Michigan’s is owned and operated by the local nonprofit Clean Energy Coalition. The University of Michigan, City of Ann Arbor, and the Ann Arbor Area Transportation Authority are also sponsors – sponsoring both money and resources.
But B-Cycle isn’t the only model out there. Motivate (formerly Alta Bicycle Share) is an international bikeshare program operator with 10 cities using its bikes – most of which have major corporate sponsores. It operates New York’s CitiBikes, sponsored by CitBank; Seattle’s Pronto, sponsored by Alaska Airlines; Toronto’s Bike Share Toronto, sponsored by TD Bank; California’s Bay Area Bike Share, sponsored by a host of municipalities and companies; Chicago’s Divvy, sponsored by the Chicago Department of Transportation, and more.
What if UTSA and VIA partnered with San Antonio B-Cycle? Would USAA, Rackspace, or TxDOT take on sponsorship of San Antonio B-Cycle? Whether or not the position will continue to be paid for by the City in the years to come remains to be seen, but the new executive director will likely be charged with finding out what kind of funding cocktail will work best for San Antonio.
*Featured/top image: A San Antonio B-Cycle next to the San Antonio River. Photo by Scott Ball.
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