Move over, cars and buses — New Haven residents now have a healthier, more convenient way to get around town.
On Tuesday, eight months after a new bike-share plan was approved by New Haven Board of Alders, bikes to rent at stations throughout the city will become available as part of the soft launch of the Elm City’s Bike Share Program. The launch will feature 10 bike stations, with a total of 100 available bicycles. Eventually, at least 300 bikes are expected to be available at 30 stations throughout the city under the oversight of New Haven Smart Mobility and its operating partner P3 Global Management.
“Bringing Bike Share to a community really portrays the advancement of the city,” P3 Global Management Marketing Manager Mary Lynch said. “It highlights the positive aspects that go on in a city — you’re looking at bettering public health, reducing the carbon footprint, improving parking.”
In May 2017, the Board of Alders unanimously authorized a contract with New Haven Smart Mobility to implement the bike share program. P3 Global Management, Smart Mobility’s managing partner, has a long track record of implementing bike-share programs sponsored by advertising. The company has already played a role in establishing programs in cities similar in size to New Haven, such as West Palm Beach, Florida; Hoboken, New Jersey and New Rochelle, New York.
Mayor Toni Harp praised the program in a Feb. 16 press release as a way to alleviate traffic congestion, reduce carbon emission and encourage exercise among citizens. Since the system will pay for itself through advertisements and user fees, Harp said, the city will not have to use government revenue to fund it.
“We’re thrilled that Bike New Haven will soon be available to enhance mobility and connectivity for city residents,” Harp said in the statement. “At no cost to the city or taxpayers, it’s exciting to see progress … with this new public transportation option.”
After downloading the Bike New Haven app — which tells users the location of bicycle stations, as well as the number of available bikes — residents will be given several pricing options. A one-time ride costs $1.75, a day pass costs $8, a one-month pass costs $20 and a year pass costs $90. Although these fixed costed pay for general bicycle usage, the program charges an extra $2 for each additional 45-minute period over the initial 45-minute ride.
Rates are set to be lower for low-income residents and those over 65 years of age.
The push to increase bike usage in the city dates back to Harp’s transition plan in December 2013, according to New Haven Transportation, Traffic and Parking Director Doug Hausladen ’04. Over the past few years, New Haven has added bike lanes, two-way cycle tracks and bike signals to encourage the of bipedal vehicles, Hausladen said.
He added that he hopes the bike-share program will encourage residents to use larger transit systems if they have a bicycle to take them there more quickly.
“We’re proud to be providing a sustainable transportation option to the public, this program will provide a last mile transportation solution for many people in our community,” Hausladen said. “We’re excited to see how it entwines with the existing bike infrastructure in New Haven.”
Hausladen said that to be a “21st-century city,” it is important to launch a bike-share program that is dynamic and flexible, adding that the soft launch will generate user data that can help the city improve its overall transportation system before the full launch in April or May.
As long as people use the bicycles, Ward 22 Alder Jeanette Morrison said, she is “all for” the bike share program.
“There are a lot of people who ride bikes, riding bikes is good exercise and good for the body, but a lot of people can’t buy bikes,” Morrison said. “To have the same concept of bike sharing as car sharing is good.”
The 10 soft-launch locations include many close to Yale’s central campus, such as at the intersections of Church and Grove streets and Chapel and York streets.
A soft launch event will take place on Tuesday at 1:15 p.m. at the bike station at the intersection of Audubon and Orange streets.
Isabel Bysiewicz | email@example.com