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Ready to ride? Toledo's getting a bike-share service

  • gotcha-bikes-jpg

    Gotcha Bike, LLC, has been awarded a contract to provide 100 bikes and 18 docking stations in downtown Toledo.

  • Downtown-Toledo-aerial-8-2

Toledo’s vision for a bike-share program is about to happen.

The Metroparks Toledo board of directors awarded a contract Wednesday to Gotcha Bike, LLC, to provide bikes and equipment for the city’s first bike-share program in downtown Toledo.

Gotcha’s bid of $294,500 was selected from three bidders, which accounts for 91 percent of the program’s total anticipated cost of $323,950.

Gotcha will operate the bike share under a contract managed by the city of Toledo. Initial plans call for installing 100 specially engineered bicycles at 18 docking stations.

Each bicycle will be rented via a smartphone app, with payment made online. They can be tracked with GPS technology, are equipped with anti-theft devices, and can be docked at any existing bike rack.

“We’re excited to get it underway,” Gretchen DeBacker, city legislative director, told the Metroparks’ board during its monthly meeting, held inside the park district’s Brookwood Area facility in South Toledo.

She told The Blade afterward that the first bicycles will be available for rent by this summer, and that Mayor Wade Kapszukiewicz sees this initial investment as only a fledgling effort. The administration is interested in quickly expanding the program beyond downtown to other parts of the city, she said.

Toledo will soon be part of a growing list of cities offering smartphone-controlled bicycles for rent as a way of providing more low-cost transportation while also reducing carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases that contribute to climate change.

“This is a great partnership with the Metroparks that will make Toledo more livable and offer a healthier and more environmentally-friendly option than driving,” Mr. Kapszukiewicz said in a news release. “Other cities have used bike-share programs with great success, and this is overdue in Toledo.”

Gotcha manufactures its own smart bikes and equipment in Charleston, S.C.

A federal grant earmarked for transportation alternatives will pay for 80 percent of the costs up to $262,760. Additional funds may be raised by sponsors. The grant was obtained with help from the Toledo Metropolitan Area Council of Governments.

The Metroparks is among some 30 public and private organizations coming together to help to launch a bike-share program in this area.

The park district’s role has been in project management, bidding, and grant writing, Scott Carpenter, Metroparks Toledo spokesman, said.

Mr. Kapszukiewicz underscored the benefits of making such high-tech bicycles available for rent during his recent State of the City address.

Park district board member Fritz Byers said he is pleased Mr. Kapszukiewicz has even “more emphatically” recognized the potential for Metroparks to grow as a partner in “the city’s renaissance” since his campaign for mayor, with projects that go beyond the opening of the downtown Middleground Metroparks in 2016.

“This is hopefully a sign of more things to come,” Scott Savage, Metroparks Toledo board president, said.

Plans for a bike-share started to gel in 2016 under former Mayor Paula Hicks-Hudson. 

The Downtown Toledo Improvement District and the Toledo Area Regional Transit Authority have offered to share in maintaining the bikes, as well as the program’s inventory and administration of the program. Ongoing costs to operate the program will be funded through user fees and memberships.

Others pledging support have included ProMedica; Fifth Third Bank; HCR ManorCare; Owens Corning; Hylant; SSOE Group; the Toledo Mud Hens and Walleye; the Huntington Center; Imagination Station; The Blade; Toledo Museum of Art; Valentine Theatre; Toledo School for the Arts; Shumaker, Loop & Kendrick, LLP; Lucas County Commissioners; Toledo Arts Commission; Toledo Public Schools; University of Toledo; Toledo Lucas County Public Library; Toledo-Lucas County Port Authority; Regional Growth Partnership, and Toledo Regional Chamber of Commerce.

Similar bike-share programs have become popular in many big cities across the United States, especially those with major universities.

In Ohio, bike-share programs have caught on in Cincinnati, Cleveland, Columbus, and Dayton.

Contact Tom Henry at thenry@theblade.com, 419-724-6079, or via Twitter @ecowriterohio.

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