Pittsburgh Bike Share plans to start up in the spring
January 5, 2015 12:00 AM
Bike Share racks have sat empty for more than a year after they were installed at Bakery Square in Pittburgh's East Liberty neighborhood.
By Steve Twedt / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
With a seven-day forecast that doesn’t offer one above-freezing temperature, it might be hard to imagine biking through Shadyside on a sunny afternoon, but officials with Pittsburgh Bike Share say that fantasy, like spring, is only a few months away.
The first of the planned 50 docking stations might go up in the city as early as March, with a hard launch of the bike rental program tentatively set for April, said Beth Hazlett, Pittsburgh Bike Share board chairwoman, but this bike rental program will be nothing like you experienced on your last vacation at the shore.
Executive director Bart Yavorosky said 500 “hybrid” bikes have been ordered as part of a system that will employ smart technology on the docking stations and the bicycles. The bikes, which the German company NextBike (www.nextbike.net) produces, were first introduced last fall for a bike-sharing program in Budapest, Hungary.
In deference to the city’s hilly terrain, the eight-speed bikes will be light and come equipped with smart technology including GPS, Mr. Yavorosky said. “We will know who has the bike, and we’re going to know where people are riding the bikes.”
He said that will be useful information as the group plans expansion, which calls for a three-fold increase in bikes and docking stations.
Pittsburgh’s program plans to use a “pay-as-you-go” system in which renters can pay, for example, $10 for 10 hours of riding over as many days as they would like, or pay only $2 for a single point-to-point ride.
“We’re really trying to make this a very low-cost transportation alternative for people,” said Mr. Yavorosky, who stepped into the executive director’s role a year ago. “We want people to be able to have a pricing plan that suits their budget.”
Rentals can be paid for online, with a credit card at a station kiosk or via mobile phone.
Pittsburgh Bike Share, a nonprofit, will operate the program under the city’s oversight. It has three funding sources: a $1.6 million grant from the Federal Highway Administration, $1.2 million from local foundations and an undisclosed amount from corporate sponsors the group has not named yet.
Philadelphia is also rolling out a bike-sharing program this spring, featuring free 60-minute rides and weekly memberships that cost just a few dollars.
Steve Twedt: email@example.com or 412-263-1963.
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