81ºF

Founder of SA bike-share program to resign in September

Cindi Snell: 'Fresh blood,' major sponsor needed for expansion

photo

SAN ANTONIO – The founder and director of one of the nation's first bike-sharing programs and the first in Texas, Cindi Snell, said she plans to resign her non-paid position as executive director in September.

"I think fresh blood is always good," Snell said after devoting five years to create B-cycle, while still owning several bike shops in San Antonio.

Snell also said her stepping down would coincide with $1.2 million in funding from the Texas Department of Transportation to expand the B-cycle program.

In addition to 75 docking stations, "We will eventually have 650 bikes on the ground and that requires a big team of people," Snell said.

She said up to now, they've been working with a shoestring budget to maintain 450 bikes and 55 stations where riders can rent them by the day or the half-hour.

"Bike-sharing programs are expensive to operate," Snell said.

Snell said she's been impressed by how many local businesses have paid to put their logos on the bikes, but the dollar value is small.

She said other major cities have branding sponsors -- from everything from an insurance giant to an NBA team -- that can cover day-to-day operational expenses. Snell said having a sponsor would take care of maintenance and salaries, including a paid director to oversee the expanded program.

But Snell said typically the mayors of those cities have taken the lead in finding those types of major sponsors.

"We have tried. The city has been a terrific partner for us," Snell said.

She said then-Mayor Julian Castro was poised to help them secure a sponsor before President Obama named him Secretary of Housing and Urban Development last May.

"Time goes by and you say, ‘Wow, we need to get this now because expansion is going to require it,'" Snell said.

She said the priority after bike-sharing received federal funding four years ago was to get the program up and running by acquiring the bikes and docking stations it has now.

But now with early voting already underway for the municipal general election May 9, Snell said, "I would ask the new mayor of San Antonio to put B-cycle at the top of their list."