CINCINNATI — Cincinnati visitors and residents soon will have a new way to get around downtown and the trendy Over-the-Rhine Historic District.
Starting this summer, more than 200 bikes will be available at 20 stations throughout the two neighborhoods.
The bike-share program will be one of many throughout the United States, including New York, Washington, D.C., Detroit, Chicago, San Francisco and Phoenix.
Columbus also has one while Cleveland is exploring the possibility. The University of Toledo is working on one, too.
Organizers hope to have Cincinnati’s program, which will be called Cincy Cycle, up and running by early July.
The bike-share is designed more for functionality than leisurely rides along the Ohio River. For instance, riders could use the bikes to get from their offices downtown to dinner in Over-the-Rhine. Or from an apartment building to a baseball game.
“It’s a system of transportation. It’s not bike rental,” Jason Barron, executive director of Cincy Bike Share, told The Cincinnati Enquirer, (http://cin.ci/1bZGM0M ). “It will fit in with taxis and the bus and the streetcar.”
Barron, who most recently worked as former Mayor Mark Mallory’s spokesman, is busy raising money, talking with corporations about sponsoring groups of bikes or bike stations. Cincy Bike Share needs $1.4 million for the stations and bicycles and then about $500,000 annually for operations.
The cost of New York City’s bike-share, which began last spring, was covered by Citigroup, which became the primary sponsor for the first six years at a cost of $42 million.
One early supporter of Cincinnati’s program is the Carol Ann and Ralph V. Haile Jr./U.S. Bank Foundation and Interact for Health, formerly The Health Foundation of Greater Cincinnati.
“I just thought it was cool and jumped on board,” said Leslie Maloney, a senior vice president at the Haile Foundation. “I love the concept of bike-sharing. It’s so simple.”
Maloney said many people who live and work downtown will appreciate the new program.
“I think of all the times I have had to drive to Findlay Market or Coffee Emporium because I didn’t have time to walk,” she said. “This would solve that.”
Annual memberships would run between $75 and $85 and allow unlimited use of the bikes for 30 minutes at a time. The rider would then park the bike at a share station, where it would be available for the next user.
Daily use would cost $7 to $8.
Each bike will be secure in their stations and will come with locks and traceable GPS units.
After the first phase of the program is up and running this summer, an additional 150 bikes and 15 stations would be added in the future to areas several miles north of downtown, near the University of Cincinnati.
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