Bal­ti­more to launch $2.36 mil­lion bike-share pro­gram to­day

Baltimore Sun - - NEWS - By Colin Camp­bell cm­camp­bell@balt­sun.com twit­ter.com/cm­camp­bell6

After pre­vi­ous un­suc­cess­ful at­tempts, Bal­ti­more will launch a long-awaited, $2.36 mil­lion bike-share pro­gram to­day with Cana­dian firm Bewe­gen Tech­nolo­gies, of­fer­ing 200 GPS-out­fit­ted bi­cy­cles for short­term rental at 20 sta­tions around the city.

To cel­e­brate, Mayor Stephanie Rawl­ingsBlake and other of­fi­cials plan to ride the new bikes in a pa­rade from one of the in­au­gu­ral sta­tions at City Hall to an­other at the In­ner Har­bor this morn­ing. A news con­fer­ence will pre­cede the pa­rade; food trucks and ac­tiv­i­ties at West Shore Park will fol­low.

An­other 30 sta­tions and an ad­di­tional 300 bi­cy­cles will be added by this spring, of­fi­cials said. The first sta­tions also will in­clude Cross Street Mar­ket, Hollins Mar­ket, the Shot Tower in Jon­estown, Har­bor East, Can­ton, Charles and Ea­ger streets, the Univer­sity of Mary­land BioPark, and a few oth­ers, said Jay Decker, the city’s bike-share co­or­di­na­tor.

The bikes cost $2 to rent for 45 min­utes, and users can buy a monthly pass for $15.

Liz Cor­nish, ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of Bike­more, a bi­cy­cle ad­vo­cacy or­ga­ni­za­tion, said bike shar­ing will be “crit­i­cally im­por­tant to chang­ing the land­scape of trans­porta­tion in the city and show­ing bik­ing is a safe, re­li­able and vi­able mode of trans­porta­tion.”

Jon Laria, chair­man of the mayor’s Bi­cy­cle Ad­vi­sory Com­mis­sion, called the pro­gram in­valu­able to pro­mot­ing Bal­ti­more’s eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment and rep­u­ta­tion as a for­ward-think­ing city.

“This is re­ally some­thing cities have to do,” Laria said.

The launch fol­lows years of at­tempts by city of­fi­cials to im­ple­ment a bike-share pro­gram. The city was stymied in one pre­vi­ous at­tempt by a pre­vi­ous ven­dor’s bank­ruptcy.

Laria said the wait turned out to be a bless­ing be­cause it gave Bal­ti­more more time to ob­serve other cities’ pro­grams, find a bet­ter ven­dor and get tech­nol­ogy, such as a fleet of elec­tric pedal-as­sisted “ped­elec” bikes, that wasn’t pre­vi­ously avail­able.

“In a way, the de­lay has been a pos­i­tive thing, be­cause the mar­ket has ma­tured and al­lowed us to find an ex­cep­tional ven­dor — Bewe­gen’s great — and al­lowed the bike tech­nol­ogy to ma­ture also so we could have the best bi­cy­cle,” he said. “Ped­elec is an op­tion that didn’t ex­ist, and I think it’s go­ing to re­ally trans­form the Bal­ti­more fleet.”

Cor­nish said she has had a chance to try both the reg­u­lar and ped­elec bi­cy­cles.

“Both are su­per fun to ride, easy to use and pro­vide a re­ally com­fort­able rid­ing ex­pe­ri­ence for bike rid­ers, both new and ex­pe­ri­enced,” she said.

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