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Pittsburgh Bike Share Program Kicks Off in May

Apr 30, 2015 02:40PM ● Published by Hilary Daninhirsch

Bicycle lovers rejoice: as of the middle of May, Pittsburgh will be the next city to launch a formal bike share program that will start with 500 bikes dispersed among 50 bike stations throughout the city. Rent a bike at one kiosk, and it can be returned to any other location. 

“Bike share is a great way to help supplement other forms of transportation,” said David White, the program’s executive director. “They are really great for increasing mobility options for visitors, students and residents of the Pittsburgh region. It’s a great opportunity to grab a bike at lunch and get some exercise, and an ideal way to get around the city if you’re a visitor to our area.” 

Besides the ecofriendly aspects to riding a bicycle and the benefits of exercise, another draw to the bike share program is that its rates make it the most affordable such program in the country. “There is no fee to register within the system; rates are $2 per half an hour; and every additional half-hour is $2. If you’re a frequent member and like to pay with a monthly contribution, we have a $12 membership of unlimited rides for 30 minutes, or $20 a month for unlimited rides for one hour,” said White. 

And reserving bicycles couldn’t be easier, as it can be done via a mobile application for both Android and IOS. Users can also reserve by telephone or just walk up to one of the stations and use a touch screen.

Many other major cities already have bike share programs, and Pittsburgh’s has been more than two years in the making. However, the extended planning process may prove to be beneficial. “The city took the time to invest in a planning process that will help assure a successful program. By using an open bidding process, we were also able to procure the latest generation of technology in bicycles, hardware and equipment,” said White.

The bicycles are the first in the nation to have seven gears. Additional features include a rack to carry gear, automatic, integrated lights and a built-in cable to lock up the bike if a kiosk is unavailable upon return, or if a rider makes a stop while on a ride.

“One great asset of the system is if you arrive at your destination and the station is full, we have a lock-in mechanism: you can lock in the bike to an integrated cable lock, using a smartphone app,” said White.

The program, which is being run by Pittsburgh Bike Share with the city of Pittsburgh as a conduit, will operate in city neighborhoods. At this time, there are no plans to expand to the suburbs, but it is a future possibility. “Right now, with limited stations, we are not able to reach out to as many communities as we’d like,” said White. “We hope to use ridership data in the first year to expand the system in the coming years to include additional neighborhoods and communities around Pittsburgh.”

White expects that users will run the gamut demographically. The bikes can also accommodate a wide range of body types and heights. “We’re hoping to attract the young and old and people from all types of backgrounds,” he said.

While there are already bike lanes in place, White said that the city will aggressively try to expand the number of lanes in the coming years. For now, users can find a map online of the locations of the bicycle stations by visiting www.healthyridepgh.com.

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