Cornell students and Ithaca residents now have another option for transportation in the City of Ithaca: lime green bicycles scattered around downtown Ithaca.
Bike Walk Tompkins, which is a project of Ithaca Carshare, and the City of Ithaca facilitated the selection process, choosing to partner with LimeBike instead of several other competing bike-sharing services. LimeBike will provide 200 bicycles for the new service, which features a dock-free rental system and a discounted rate for students.
“We have been thinking of bringing bike-share services here for many years now,” said Hector Chang, active transportation and bike-share coordinator for Ithaca Carshare. “And actually, because we work in close collaboration with the city and also people at Cornell University, it was a choice that was informed by people in both the city … and people in the college.”
The first 200 bicycles are largely distributed in downtown Ithaca and other flat areas in Ithaca, Chang said. He told The Sun in a phone interview that LimeBike may provide more bicycles and expand the covered region in the future.
The Cornell campus already has its own bike-sharing program, which launched last year, and none of the LimeBike bicycles are in Collegetown yet, although that may change. “We hope that bike-share will expand to cover uphill areas like Collegetown and maybe even Cornell,” Chang said.
Renting a bicycle will cost $1 for 30 minutes for the average user. Students, faculty and staff with a valid college email address can use the bicycle from the service for 50 cents per 30 minutes.
The new service also abandons the stationary docks used by traditional bike-sharing programs like Citi Bike in New York, Chang said, in an effort to expand the places people can go with a rented bike and to provide greater convenience.
“The main priority that we have is coverage,” Chang said. “We didn’t want to leave any neighbourhood in the Ithaca city behind.”
Users will need to download and register a smartphone application in order to use the service. After picking up bicycle and scanning a code on the bike, they can use it and park it anywhere that public bicycle parking is allowed. The locking mechanism on the bike will then lock the rear wheel, preventing unauthorized use, according to Bike Walk Tompkins.
Each bike is also equipped with GPS and cellular connections to help users locate the nearest bikes.
“Ithaca is not a big place, and most of the trips people do by car in the city are so short,” Chang said. “Those trips can be very easily done by bike.”
Chang hopes that the new bikeshare service, as well as the Bike Walk Tompkins program, will encourage more people to consider biking as an alternative for short-distance driving.
“Hopefully this will open up bicycling to more people [and] to the community, including students too,” Chang said.