A bike-share program that first launched in McAllen six years ago is now growing past county lines into Harlingen and Brownsville, making the concept of a regional program a reality.
On Friday, the Lower Rio Grande Valley Development Council launched the regional BCycle bike-sharing program opening nine additional stations in Cameron County — five in Brownsville and four in Harlingen.
The expansion to those two cities marks not just the program’s first sites outside Hidalgo County but its first sites outside of McAllen.
Behind that growth was the Lower Rio Grande Valley Development Council which took over the project after it first launched in 2015 in an effort to make it into a regional program.
In 2018, the LRGVDC secured a $250,000 grant from the Valley Baptist Legacy Foundation, which largely funded the installation of the new sites and the bicycles, according to Manuel Cruz, executive director of the LRGVDC.
The hope of the LRGVDC is that making the BCycle program more widely available will help get the public more engaged in physical activity and encourage them to explore the Valley.
“There are so many quirks, so many sites that people normally don’t know about, and so through various programs such as these we try to get the people engaged out there so they can find the different jewels that exist throughout the RGV,” Cruz said.
“Being that we’re just trying to get over this pandemic, it’s a perfect opportunity to get people out and about in the community,” he added.
Eventually, Cruz said they hope to have interconnected hike and bike trails so that people could bike between the three cities without having to take other forms of transportation.
“That’s the big picture, when they’re interconnected, is that they could actually ride a bike from .. start in Brownsville and ride all the way to McAllen,” he said.
The LRGVDC is already working on expanding the bike-share program to other cities in Hidalgo County with the help of a grant they secured in 2019 from TxDOT’s Federal Highway Administration through the Rio Grande Valley Metropolitan Planning Organization.
Cruz said they reached out to six Hidalgo County cities of which Alamo and Weslaco have already committed to the partnership. The city of Edinburg made a verbal commitment, according to Cruz, and they are waiting to hear back from the cities of Pharr, San Juan and Mission.
“The project was created to make sure our people get out,” McAllen Mayor Jim Darling said during a news conference held Friday morning. “It really is to get people involved without going and doing the expensive buying a bike, and storage and all those things.”
A one-hour pass to rent the bikes is $2, while a 24-hour pass is $6. A seven-day pass costs $15, a 30-day pass is $30, and an annual pass is $65.
There are now a total of 17 stations throughout the Valley with a total of 140 bicycles.
>> La Plaza Bus Terminal at 755 International Blvd.
>> Linear Park at 1534 E. Sixth St.
>> Belden Trail at 1325 Palm Blvd.
>> Dean Porter Park at 501 E. Ringgold St.
>> Northside Transfer Station at Habana St.
>> Lon C. Hill Park at L. Street and Fair Park Boulevard
>> McKelvey Park at 1325 S. 77 Sunshine Strip
>> Hugh Ramsey Nature Park Trail at 1202 TX 499 Loop
>> Harlingen Arts & Heritage Museum at 2425 Boxwood St.