For visitors and locals in New Orleans, soon you will be able to pull out your smartphone or a prepaid access card, unlock a bike, ride it across town, lock it to bike rack, and walk away.
That’s because the Crescent City is set to launch a bike share program this fall with a fleet of 700 bicycles available for use throughout the city.
In 2016, city officials chose Brooklyn-based Social Bicycles as the city’s sole public bike share operator. The company currently manages similar bike sharing programs in more than 25 cities, including Tampa and Atlanta.
The program will be operated through a five-year agreement between the city and Social Bicycles and will be funded through direct revenues and private sponsorships. City officials said no public dollars will be spent on the program.
According to the company, cyclists will be able to access the bikes at one of the 70 strategically placed locations around New Orleans. To use the bike, a user will need to have a social bicycle card, that will cost $15 a month. Under the $15 flat rate, users will be able to rent a bike for 60 minutes a day. Any time over the 60 minutes, users will be charged an additional $8 an hour.
The city of New Orleans will also offer a low-income version of the pass that, for $1.67 or $20 a year, will offer the same benefits as a regular pass.
According to company officials, the goal of the program is to serve New Orleanians first, before visitors, so the stations will be placed in each of the city’s neighborhoods, designed to integrate with the other forms of transit.
Each bicycle will be GPS-enabled to prohibit theft and so that during special events, such as Mardi Gras, users can lock up their bikes near the event site at virtual “stations.”
“The City of New Orleans is ready to support a bicycle share system that meets resident, worker and visitor mobility needs,” said Mayor Mitch Landrieu when announcing the bike share partnership. “This is an opportunity for a world-class partner to introduce and fund a transformational and equitable resource for our city.”
The new bike sharing program follows on the heels of efforts by the Landrieu administration to improve bicycle infrastructure throughout the city. Plans are underway to create more bikeways and protected bike lanes between the curb and parking lane in certain high traffic areas.
A demonstration of the bike share program will be held from February 10 to 23, consisting of about 30 to 40 bicycles. Company officials said that will give residents an idea of how the program will work before launching the full program in the fall.
h/t Uptown Messenger