Green Mountains Welcome its First Bike Share

By STEFAN ASAMOAH

BURLINGTON — Vermont and its varying terrain, hail as a place where cycling dominates the eclectic options of recreational activities. As summer months approach, the enchantment of warmer weather attracts cyclers who were reluctantly on hiatus. These cyclers will find some comfort in knowing that just a few weeks ago, Greenride Bike Share was established as the first bikeshare program within the state.

For those unfamiliar with cycling culture, a bike share program is a service where bikes are essentially rented and shared amongst the public for a fee. According to Greenride’s website, most of the bike shares are used for a short distance, and commonly last about 15-20 minutes. To operate the bikeshare program, users download the SoBi mobile application Greenride and enter the code received on the the bike’s system. When users sign up, they will be given a 6-digit account number and 4-digit pin code. Users can simply walk up to a bike, enter the code and PIN on the GPS into the keypad on the back of bike, unlock and begin riding. When they’re done, they can return and lock the bike at any designated Greenride Bike Share hub. The bike then becomes available for others to use.

This program is the first of its kind and will continue to go through a series of expansions over the next few weeks and months. Currently, the bike share program is in what its creators consider to be its “first phase” of development.

“The first phase of the program costs about $200,000 annually,” said Sandy Thibault of the Chittenden Area Transportation Management Association. “That total covers the cost of the bikes, which are leased from the Gotcha Group (a South Carolina company).”

“Ben & Jerry’s and Seventh Generation are providing the majority of funding through sponsorships. Corporate sponsors will cover 50 percent of the program costs,” Thibault explained. “Institutions, such as Champlain College and the University of Vermont

Medical Center, will fund about 20 percent, while cities and towns, including Burlington, will pay the remaining 30 percent.”

The program’s website also lists plans for a second phase, which includes increasing the number of bikes available, as well as expanding its available locations to include South Burlington, Winooski, Colchester, Williston, Shelburne and Essex. When asked if there were any plans for the program to extend to the Middlebury community, Thibault responded, “Once we get a good year of experience with our Greenride case study, we should be able to discuss with other communities.”

“Bikeshare has been a missing

transportation option in our region, although it has been studied and discussed over the past decade through municipal planning efforts and general community,” Thibault said of the motivation for developing the bikeshare program. “With bikeshare noted as a needed infrastructure component in Plan BTV and Walk/Bike Plan BTV, as well as in the CCRPC Active Transportation Plan, the University of Vermont and Champlain College’s Active Transportation Plans, our project team came together and committed to make the desire of bikeshare a reality.”

Thibault described the goal of the project as “providing a high quality, convenient and affordable transportation option to everyone.”

As of the end of April, Thibault noted, the bikeshare program had signed up its 200th member, and has succeeded in reducing 808.43 lbs of CO2, burning 36,671 calories and clocking 916 miles traveled. As people increasingly move away from conventional forms of transportation, the GreenRide Bike Share program is not only a viable transportation alternative, but a significantly eco-friendly one at that.

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Green Mountains Welcome its First Bike Share