Metro, News

Providence, RIPTA launch electric-assist bike program

Bike sharing initiative to increase city’s sustainability, funded by $400,000 investment

By
Senior Staff Writer
Friday, January 26, 2018

The new bike sharing initiative will consist of eletronic bikes that allow for greater speeds. Monthly membership to the program will cost $20 per month, but $20 per year for certain low-income households.

The city of Providence will introduce 400 electric-assist bikes this summer through New England’s first electric bike-share system, following a deal with JUMP Bikes signed Dec. 15.

“A bike-share program positions Providence to be a more sustainable, healthier and fun city for years to come,” said Mayor Jorge Elorza in a recent press release. “We are thrilled to be among the first cities in the region to offer these bikes that will allow residents and visitors to explore the capital city in a unique and exciting way.”

The Rhode Island Public Transit Authority will be partnering with the city to provide financial support by administering federal funding through a $400,000 Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery grant, according to Barbara Polichetti, director of public affairs for RIPTA.

The grant is part of a new mobility initiative focused on expanded investment in the Downtown Transit Connector project, an improved bus corridor under construction in Providence, said Victor Morente, press secretary for the Mayor’s Office.

Each e-bike have a pedal assist motor, allowing them to reach speeds of up to 20 miles per hour, making it easier to climb hills and travel for long distances. Equipped with U-locks, e-bikes will be able to be locked anywhere in the city, within certain boundaries.

The Brooklyn-based bike company has installed over 12,000 dockless bicycles in over 40 markets, including Washington, D.C. and Portland.

The bike-share program will rely on a monthly membership of $20 per month, including one hour free per day. However, the city will also offer discounted memberships of $20 a year for low-income households earning less than 80 percent of Providence’s median income, Morente said.

Providence residents will also be able to use a “pay as you go” rate of $2 for the first 30 minutes, and then on a per minute rate afterwards.

The program would complement RIPTA’s mission to reduce the amount of vehicles on Providence roads, further benefiting the environment, Politchetti said.

All RIPTA fixed-route buses are equipped with two bicycle carriers, so people who choose to bike will be able to still use the bus system. “We have a lot of bicyclists who commute to work every day using their bikes for the first and last miles of their trips and using RIPTA to round out the route,” Polichetti wrote in an email to The Herald.

The city and parterning company JUMP Bikes will be hosting several public meetings to receive input from community members about potential locations for bike-share stations, Morente said. Further information regarding the meetings will be released in the next month, he added.

“We’re excited to bring JUMP Bikes to Providence,” said Ryan Rzepecki, founder and CEO of JUMP Bikes in a press release. “The city has committed to making bicycling a viable transportation option for local residents and is poised to become a leader for the future of sustainable transportation. Our e-bikes will transform Providence for residents and visitors, making communities feel closer than ever and bringing new excitement to bike riding.”

In addition to the bike share program, Providence is investing more than $10,000,000 into improving its bicycle infrastructure by implementing more bike lanes, off-road bike paths and racks, Morente said. The investment, taking place over the course of the next three years, is the result of a partnership with the organization PeopleForBikes, which is working with nine other U.S. cities to bolster urban bicycling.