The purpose of the Bike Share Feasibility Study is to evaluate the feasibility of a bike share system for the Truckee Meadows, review possible technology options for implementation, provide an assessment of potential costs, explore various governance models, and identify a desirable public-private partnership plan.


A steering committee comprised of representation from City of Sparks, City of Reno, RTC Washoe, Reno/Sparks Convention Visitors Authority (RSCVA), and the Washoe County Health District-Air Quality Management Division was formed to guide development of the study. The steering committee identified a potential service area which was identified utilizing density maps of where residents live, work, recreate and access transit. The proposed Phase 1 would implement bike share in downtown Sparks and Reno.

A bike share program would provide bicycles for public use for a nominal fee. Two types of programs are being considered including: rental kiosks with a station-based bike system located near employment centers, high density residential areas, transit and other key destinations; and a smart bike system whereby payment can be accepted through a unit affixed on an available bicycle that is not station-based.

Bike share rentals are traditionally assessed a membership fee. Typically, the first 30-60 minutes are free with a membership.  Memberships may have a duration of 24 hours to annually.  The study shows a membership program is appealing to Truckee Meadows tourists and residents alike.  A usage fee may also apply for a longer duration of use beyond the free period.

During the study, there were 245 completed surveys collected during several outreach efforts.  The Bike Share Feasibility Study was presented to the public during an open house in August 2015 at The Discovery Museum in Reno. Public input received was compiled and incorporated into the study.

Possible bike share station placement locations for a kiosk-based system were identified by the steering committee. The service area was divided into 1,000-square foot grids where one kiosk was strategically placed in each grid.  The steering committee determined cell placement depending on origins/destinations analysis, existing bikeway and bicycle infrastructure, and transit connections.  Based on these criteria the steering committee proposed the following:

  • Bike share stations- 60
  • Number of bikes- 552
  • Bikes per station- 6-12
  • Minimum number of docks per station- 11
  • Number of docks- 1,044
  • Potential launch year- Dependent of funding TBD

There are three costs associated with bike share: capital, operating, and administration.  Capital costs are associated with purchase of equipment including stations, kiosks, bikes, and docks necessary to launch bike share.  Costs vary depending on:

  • Equipment selected – high cost range for fixed-station systems (steel plates on dock) vs. low cost range for smart-bike systems (bike-rack with smart-locking bikes)
  • System parameters such as the number of bikes per station or the number of docks per bike; and
  • Additional features such as incorporating an independent lock or equipping bikes with GPS

Operating costs include those required to operate and maintain the system.  This includes staff and equipment related to:

  • Station maintenance: including technical support for hardware/software associated with kiosks or docking points, cleaning and clearing the station, snow removal, removing litter and graffiti etc.;
  • Bike maintenance: including regular inspection and servicing of bikes as well as maintaining equipment inventory;
  • Re-balancing: typically the highest operating cost for the system is the staff time and equipment associated with moving bikes from full to empty stations;
  • Customer service: providing a responsive customer interface for inquiries and complaints as well as performing marketing and outreach to new and existing customers; and
  • Direct expenses: such as maintenance of an operations facility, purchase of tools and spare parts for the upkeep of software, communications and IT, and general administrative costs such as insurance and membership database management.

Additional administrative costs are associated with operating a bike share system.  For any type of governance model and operating system, a total of $30,000 should be budgeted for administration services as the lead-in to a Phase-1 roll-out. The majority of successful bike share systems rely upon advertising and sponsorship revenues and these costs fall under administrative costs.

The cost estimates for Year 1 (Phase 1) are:

Fixed Station-System Smart-Bike System
Launch $815,000 $785,000
Capital $3,228,000 $1,270,800
Administration $30,000 $30,000
Total             $5,480,600 $2,913,800

On August 11, 2017, a Bike Share Community Leadership Forum was held as a first step toward establishing public-private partnerships as recommended in the Truckee Meadows Bike Share Feasibility Study.  The Bike Share Forum was well attended with over 60 participants including public officials.  Staff reviewed the sustainability plan outlined in the study with the business community and provided an overview of bike share.  The Bike Share Forum resulted in an overwhelming support for implementing a bike share system in the Truckee Meadows and there was a consensus to invite vendors to an Industry Review.  Bike Share vendors and operators will demonstrate equipment, operations, application/software and reports which will provide staff with information that can be utilized in completing a Request for Proposal (RFP).

View the Bike Share Forum Presentations