June 29, 2012

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Salt Lake Becoming a More Bike-Friendly City

Sarah Cutler

June 29, 2012

You’ve most likely seen the continual upgrades in Salt Lake City for a more bike-friendly community. There are the green stripes in some car lanes indicating that bikes may use the entire lane and additional bike-only lanes on the sides of roads—and soon you can add community bike rentals to that list.

The Salt Lake Chamber of Commerce, SLC Downtown Alliance and Salt Lake City Corporation have joined forces to create Utah's first solar-powered bike share program. SLC Bike Share is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization that will operate and manage the system of bicycles and kiosks.

The kiosks, or stations, are fully automated with touch screens and are solar powered. They will be located at specific points of interest on the sidewalk or parking area. The beauty of the program is that riders can pick up a bike at one station, ride to their destination and park the bike back into a different station. Users can get from point A to point B quickly with out having to worry about parking, and it saves on gas.

Bike share is vastly different from renting a bike. The maximum time allowed to have a bike checked out is 30 minutes. The bikes are specifically for transportation. There is no limit to how many 30 minute trips you make in a day, but if you are looking to go for a long ride or need a bike overnight, head to a local bike shop and rent one.

Salt Lake is using “B Cycle” bikes made by Trek. They are unisex bikes with front and rear LED lights and a GPS unit installed. Trek normally offers three color options for the B Cycle, but SLC Bike Share Project Manager Ben Bolte worked his magic to get an exception for Utah. “This is the first time Trek has agreed to use a different color,” Bolte said. “We are using the SelectHealth pantone matching system 576. It is a very specific green color. We are making our own brand.”

Memberships will range from $5 for access over 24 hours to $15 for a week pass and an annual pass for $75. The annual pass includes an RFID card that allows members to simply tap the bike of your choice to unlock it. Annual members will also receive a free helmet and an online profile to log their calories burned, Co2 avoided and money saved in gas.

“We are trying to eliminate all the repetitive, real-short-distance car trips that are massively unnecessary. Why wouldn’t you ride five or six blocks instead of taking your car?” said Bolte. “Someone else is going to maintain the bike and it looks nice and you aren’t worried about it getting stolen.”

The program will start with at least 10 stations stocked with 10 bikes. After the downtown program takes off, SLC Bike Share plans to increase the number of stations and expand the program into other areas of Salt Lake City and the Wasatch Front.

The launch is planned for the first day of spring in March, 2013, with promotions and community outreach taking place throughout 2012.

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