This spring will bring 300 bikes to 30 sites across Raleigh as part of the city’s second bike share program.
The Raleigh City Council on Tuesday approved a $1.84 million contract with Montreal-based Bewegen.
Bewegen’s bikes will complement and compete with the LimeBike service already in use around N.C. State’s campus. Unlike LimeBike’s offerings, half of the city’s bikes will include a small electric motor to make cycle trips easier and faster.
“An electric assist fleet also allows access for folks who don’t ride bikes frequently,” Raleigh transportation engineer Eric Lamb said. “It makes it a lot easier to ride a bicycle.”
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Kay Crowder, who has said she thinks bike share programs should be addressed by the private sector, cast the only vote against the contract’s approval Tuesday. The City Council had voted last year to pursue its own bike share program.
The contract came in about $350,000 under the $2.2 million Raleigh had budgeted for the project. About $1.4 million of that cost will be federal transportation dollars distributed through the Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization, or CAMPO. About $167,700 will be paid by Raleigh, and $200,000 will come from Wake County.
The city’s service will rely on docks at its 30 stations, which also will serve as charging stations for the electric bikes’ motors. N.C. State’s LimeBike allows users to leave the bikes wherever might be convenient. That allows users flexibility when they arrive at their destination, Lamb said, but it can make it harder to find a bike when you need one.
Lamb said the bikes would include sophisticated GPS tracking that would allow the city to create temporary docking sites for special events.
“We could establish a virtual station out at PNC Arena if we have an event that people want to bike to there,” he said.
In addition to electric assist, the city hopes to implement other accessibility measures, including reduced fares for low-income residents and the ability to pay in cash to access the service, Lamb said.
Bewegen will also create and manage a mobile app and website for the system. Raleigh’s contract with Bewegen also includes a plan for bike maintenance, 30 backup bikes and daily redistribution of the bikes between stations. In most cities, bike share programs see bikes move from the outskirts of the city toward the center throughout the day, then back out in the afternoon. That creates a natural shortage for people looking for bikes downtown at night or outside downtown during the work day.
Lamb presented a map of proposed locations for the sites at Tuesday’s meeting.
“In terms of the geographic distribution, it seems like it skews heavily to the west versus the east,” Councilman Russ Stephenson said. “I’m concerned with the mobility options for people east of downtown.”
Lamb said the sites were subject to change before installation begins in April – and after that, if demand is strong in other areas.
“Location is based around common gathering points and where there are clusters of employment, education or residential use,” he said. “But we have recently added another one out to the east, down at Walnut Creek Wetlands Center, and we are trying to make sure everyone has access to these stations. It’s part of our strategy for equity.”
A yearly pass to use the service would cost $80 for most residents. Students would pay $50 per year. A daily pass would cost $8, and a one-way trip would cost $3. A combination of fare revenues and a sponsorship agreement yet to be announced – think New York’s “Citibikes” – should entirely cover the program’s $525,000 annual operational costs, Lamb said.
In additional to its services in several European cities, Bewegen operates bike share programs in Baltimore, Birmingham, Ala., and Richmond, Va.
Gargan: 919-829-4807; @hgargan