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Red Bike Plans in Bellevue Will Require Patience as Budget is Crafted

The Red Bike phenomenon spreading throughout major U.S. cities, including Cincinnati, will make its way into Bellevue if council members have their way. Only, there are lingering questions to be answered: when and how. When will the bicycle stations arrive and how will they be funded? 

Bellevue City Council met for a budget planning meeting on Wednesday evening.

Assistant City Administrator Jody Robinson said, optimistically, the bikes will be in place by the All-Star Game on Tuesday, July 14. “We already have commitments from some people, we just don’t know what the dollar value is,” she said. But, Councilman Ryan Salzman added that citizens were concerned with transparency related to how sources of money will get to their proper channels via the proposed crowd funding method.

“Really, the bigger question is crowd funding...it’s running into the normal issues that fundraising does," Salzman said. "So are we starting to push it online and just see if there’s a larger question of could we appeal to somebody in San Diego to give us 20 dollars because they are a bike enthusiast? Or are we really just trying to draw from our own pool?" Salzman mentioned that the city needs to iron out the details for everything to fall into place. “But one potentially really cool incentive that is really going to convince people like me to maybe pony up a little bit is related to the brewery coming in."

Despite its various issues to sort out, will Red Bike make it to Bellevue? One-hundred percent yes, said Salzman. “Absolutely certain, Red Bike will be in Bellevue. Absolutely certain. Will it be here by the All-Star Game? Couldn’t tell you,” he said.

Citizens only contributing money to the cause if a station is placed near their home is also a potential barrier facing the city.

“I think if we’re really going to get people to buy in, we need to put our skin in the game,” Councilman Matt Olliges said.

Councilman David Slater is hesitant to do so. “I don’t like the idea of giving my neighbor’s money away for something we can’t say, ‘we’re getting this for it,’" he said. The average age of police vehicles within city limits is five-and-a-half years old, Slater added, so why not allocate those funds towards purchasing new ones? Robinson rebutted his statement, saying urban cores with these bike stations are thriving. \

“We are a changing, dynamic community...and our backs are turned to Bellevue as part of this dynamic urban core,” if Red Bike is located in surrounding communities but is left out of Bellevue, leaving it disconnected. “We are desperate to be a part of it,” she pleaded. 

The obstacle: the budget of 2014-2015 leaves no money for Red Bike, City Administrator Keith Spoelker said. Residents – and a few city council members – will have to be patient.

Aside from the great bike debate, council member Melissa Tatum brought forth the youth budget. Can money be used for recreation outside city limits if residents were part of the program, she asked? “We can give it to a public entity, whose goal is to provide recreation," Spoelker said. "I’d rather give it to the source that can provide the (athletic) fields.

Councilman Steve Guidugli mentioned that the city needs to explore more prudent ways to spend its $5,000 field maintenance budget, as it’s only used for Bellevue High School. 

Lastly, will the city bring the Donna Meyer parking lot out of the flood plain? Yes, it will fit within the engineering budget, council members said. 

Written by Jason Finnell, RCN contributor