Well, it’s finally happened: America’s first public electric bike share has launched with a fleet of 88 eBikes. Park City, Utah is host to this major endeavor and pursued such a project in order to meet their goals for expanding public transportation in their city. Utah’s Desert News reports, “The launch of the new bike fleet fulfills the plan of a Summit County ballot initiative passed last November calling for an electric bike fleet. The partnership between Summit County and Park City helps the county’s carbon reduction goals and complements the county’s new all-electric bus fleet.” Over 900 people rode the eBikes in the first weekend and 3,000 miles were logged over the program’s first week. Apparently this isn’t enough for Park City and Summit County as they are planning to expand the program by adding six more stations in 2018.
Closer to home, Seattle has just re-launched their city-wide bike share program after letting go of the Pronto bikes. LimeBike and Spin are now the dominate bike share businesses partnering with the city to promote cycling. With 500 bikes each (soon to be 1000 each), the businesses are growing rapidly and both LimeBike and Spin have logged 5,000 rides in their first week of operation. Ofo, a Beijing based bike share company has also launched in Seattle only weeks after LimeBike and Spin. As the Seattle PI reports, these new bikes shares are operating without designated bike racks, or docks. “The dock-less system is meant to make the bikes readily available wherever someone might need or want one, according to the companies. Pronto’s docking stations may have limited its utility around the city.”
These efforts by the upstart bike share companies remind us at Viking eBike that cycling must be accessible to as many people as possible. Our program is beginning to examine our own cycling biases and our goal is to make our program as accessible as possible. Beginning in fall quarter our team will be making a strong outreach push to the many clubs across WWU’s campus be they “environmental” clubs or not. As we check our program’s impact on the greater university, it’s worth our time to look at how technology such as eBikes can change transportation habits for people of diverse socio-economic backgrounds. Stay tuned for more updates as we begin our outreach this fall.