Surbhi Bharadwaj

Over the past two years, the city’s Department of Transportation, Traffic and Parking has collaborated with P3 Global Management, Noa Technologies and E3Think to bring a bike-sharing program to New Haven. With the City Plan Commission’s approval of the finished product earlier this month, the system is ready to launch in mid-December, just in time for the holiday season.

Officially named Bike New Haven, the program will include 30 stations around the city, all strategically placed in high-traffic areas, including four at city schools and several at different parks. In total, there will be 300 bicycles available for rent, and users may rent a bike at one station and return it at another.

Bikes will be available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, with a minimum rental period of 45 minutes. Noa has designed a mobile app for both the Apple and Android markets, along with an accompanying website. Through the Noa Rider app, bikers will have access to a map with the various bike locations. The app’s “Scan to Unlock” feature will allow the phone’s camera to scan a QR code uniquely associated with each bike. The app connects with the bike’s ring lock, opening it automatically. Frequent users will be able to opt in for three-month or annual memberships if the single rides begin to add up.

The concept behind the bike-share program was first introduced in December 2015. In May 2017, the city’s Board of Alders has given unanimous approval for the program and awarded a five-year contract to New Haven Smart Mobility LLC — a subsidiary of P3 Global Management — to plan, implement and operate the system.

P3 Global Management has also collaborated with the cities of New Rochelle in New York and parts of New Jersey to create New Rochelle Bike Share and Hudson Bike Share, respectively. New Haven Director of Transportation, Traffic and Parking Doug Hausladen ’04 said it was important to study other cities similar to New Haven in population and size while designing a bike-share program.

“In order to procure a system that would work for New Haven, we had to be very thoughtful and deliberate, very intentional in our design, of not only the eventual contract but also in the request for qualification,” Hausladen said. “In designing the RQ, we looked at the best of what we could find around the country and added the conversation regarding transit, other types of cycling, with a focus on outreach and engagement and population that looks similar to New Haven.”

Mayor Toni Harp had expressed interest in transforming New Haven into a bicycle-sharing community back when the concept was proposed but wanted to ensure that any potential program would be built to accommodate all users and riders. Hausladen said that the initial plan envisioned a bicycle network for people ages eight to 80.

The program’s designers emphasized accessibility throughout the planning process, and under  Harp’s direction, made sure to be responsive to the New Haven community. The goals of the system are equity, expansion of transit options, access to jobs and general convenience.

“We were very clear about looking for an expansion of our mobility system, rather than, say, a system that was geared toward simply college students or simply tourists,” Hausladen said. “We have taken the approach that our city needs more mobility options that are responsive to the needs of the community.”

After announcing the possibility of implementing the bike-share program, New Haven Smart Mobility used written surveys and public forums to collect suggestions for station locations. Ultimately, the organization chose the locations based on their proximity to transportation  facilities and commonly frequented places such as libraries, grocery stores and shopping centers.

The bike-share program may not be geared toward Yale students, but they will be able to take advantage of it to explore the city or to make runs to Stop & Shop.

“I think that the efficiency a bikeshare program would bring to the lives of many Yale students and New Haven residents would make it well worth its cost,” said Andre Costa ’21, who owns his own bike to get around campus. “New Haven is also a great place to have such a program because there are so many bike lanes and one-way streets that make biking simple and effective around town.”

In the spring, the city plans to expand the program to the Farmington Canal, Fair Haven, East Rock, Newhallville and the Hill neighborhoods.

Julianna Lai | julianna.lai@yale.edu