PORTLAND — Public transit riders may someday be riding bikes instead of buses, thanks to the city’s selection last week as one of five communities nationwide for federal assistance in creating a local “bike-share” program.

Bike-sharing offers the public free or low-cost access to a shared pool of bicycles for short trips. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency said Feb. 7 it will provide technical assistance to explore the development of a bike-share program in Portland, according to a City Hall press release.

The EPA’s Building Blocks for Sustainable Communities program brings consulting services and other assistance to local governments to help stimulate their economies, protect residents’ health and safeguard the environment. Each program award includes a one- or two-day public workshop.

A total of 43 communities received awards this year in nine categories. The recipients were chosen from more than 120 communities that applied. Other cities selected for bike-sharing support were Bridgeport, Conn.; Denver; Fort Collins, Colo., and New Orleans.

In addition, the town of Brunswick was one of four communities selected for assistance to analyze local parking needs. Other recipients of the parking audit services were Carpinteria, Calif.; Cheney, Wash., and Lawrence, Kan.

The Portland and Brunswick awards are each worth about $20,000, EPA spokeswoman Rosemary Monahan said. She said the workshops will be held sometime before May.

Not only will the Building Blocks awards will have a direct benefit for the recipient communities, Monahan said, the knowledge developed will eventually become available to any community on an EPA Building Blocks website.

“The EPA’s technical assistance will be a tremendous help to the city as we look to developing a local bike-share program,” Jeff Levine, Portland’s director of planning and urban development, said in the press release.

“Bike-share programs offer a convenient alternative to driving and could help the city achieve its sustainability goals by reducing traffic and the environmental hazards associated with vehicular traffic.”

Dylan Martin contributed to this report. William Hall can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 106 or [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter: @hallwilliam4.

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