When Eugene received the grant for a bike share program back in 2015 the plan was to open by this Fall. Last week the City of Eugene, Social Bicycles, and other partner agencies, Lane Transit District (LTD) and the University of Oregon, announced that the launch date has been extended to the Spring of 2018. The move was approved by ODOT, the grant agency for the $909,000 ConnectOregon funding that is being used to purchase equipment for the project.
Last Spring the partner agencies announced Social Bicycles as the contractor who will run the Eugene project. Since then they have launched a EugeneBikeShare site, hired station siting coordinators, collected input on station locations, organized a community “sounding board” and earlier this summer hired Lindsey Hayward as the General Manager.
Along with the announcement on the delayed opening was confirmation that a title sponsor has been found for the bike share system. Sponsorship will “help support operations expenses and provide a strong foundation for the long-term sustainability of the system.” The official announcement of who the title sponsor is will happen at a still to-be-announced event in the coming months. During that event they will also unveil the branded bikes and the official system name.
The delay until Spring not only gives Social Bicycles the time to brand the bicycles with the title sponsor but also moves the opening to a better time of year where promotion and growth can happen during the better weather of Spring and Summer.
Social Bikes can currently be found in over 40 cities throughout the US and in Canada, the Czech Republic, Poland, and the UK. They provided the bikes for the system in Portland, Biketown, in July 2016 when it opened with 1,000 bikes and 100 stations. It’s the largest “smart bike” system in the United States and is run by another company, Motivate (formerly Alta Bike Share).
Eugene’s system will be run by Social Bicycles (SoBi), one of only five systems the company runs, and will include 300 bikes and 35 stations. A map of the proposed station locations is still available for final public comment at eugenebikeshare.com. The input will be used to make adjustments before station locations are permitted and installed. The location of stations will be focused on areas “where people are likely to use bikes most frequently” including downtown Eugene, the University of Oregon campus, and parts of the Whiteaker neighborhood. Future phases of the project could expand the station locations.
As a “smart bike” system, rather than a “smart station” system it will also be possible to lock the bikes outside of the existing stations, usually for an increased fee. This system also allows the operator to create temporary ‘geo-fence’ stations where bikes can be parked without the additional fee, which can be useful for special events or to test new station locations.
There’s no word on when pricing will be ready to share but we can look to Portland for one potential fee structure. BIKETOWN currently charges $2.50 for single rides (one trip up to 30 minutes), $12 for a day pass (24-hour access, 180 minutes of ride time, unlimited trips), and $12/month for a yearly pass (90 minutes of ride time per day, unlimited trips). Discounts are available for group memberships and a $3/month membership for lower-income residents. They have also taken some steps to include adaptive bikes and made other improvements. Having them a year or two ahead of us with their fleet should give us some good lessons before we even have our system fully in place.
Stay tuned to We Bike Eugene for updates on the new system, including the announcement of the title sponsor and a potential announcement celebration.