Julia Nagel/Sun Photography Editor

A guide to Ithaca's new bikeshare service that launched in November.

January 24, 2023

Ithaca Bikeshare – A Comprehensive Guide to Ithaca’s Newest Transportation Option

Print More

In November, the Center for Community Transportation launched Ithaca Bikeshare, a nonprofit, community-owned program that provides cost-effective and easy-to-use transportation in the form of electric bikes.

“Whether you’re heading to work, meeting friends for dinner or exploring Ithaca, Ithaca Bikeshare offers a convenient, fun and healthy way to experience the city you love,” the Ithaca Bikeshare website said.

100 white-and-orange bikes have been supplied to Ithaca by Drop Mobility, an electric bike company that services over a dozen cities across the U.S. including New Orleans and Kansas City. The bikes are class 1 pedal-assist e-bikes that can reach a maximum speed of 16 miles per hour. In Ithaca, Drop Mobility and the CCT looked to implement an affordable, reliable and sustainable transportation option.

“A lot of time and energy has gone into making Ithaca Bikeshare possible,” said CCT Director of Micromobility Jeff Goodmark in a statement to the Ithaca Voice. “I want to thank everyone for their part in making it happen. I am personally excited for the return of bikeshare as this program brings much needed affordable, alternative and sustainable transportation for everyone to use.”

The e-bikes are accessible in an app on both the Apple App Store and Google Play. After downloading the app, users will be prompted to enter a phone number followed by a confirmation code, then create an account using their name and email address. Next, users must review the terms of service and allow the app to use their location.

In the app, a map shows the location and charge of available e-bikes, which can be found scattered around Ithaca or stationed at a “hub.” Three hubs are located just south of Cornell’s campus — outside of Collegetown Bagels’ College Avenue location, at the intersection of Oak Avenue and Dryden Road and at the Maplewood Apartments. Another hub is located just west of Alice Cook House at the corner of Stewart and University Avenues. The map also shows the user’s location, making it easy to find the nearest bike.

To select a bike, users can either click their desired e-bike on the map or scan the QR code located both on the handlebars and behind the seat. Once a bike has been selected, the app will ask users to add a credit card and select a payment plan. Ithaca Bikeshare offers pay-as-you-go (15 cents/minute with a $1 unlock fee) and day pass ($20/day) options, as well as monthly ($45/month) and annual ($150/year) memberships. After payment, the bike will unlock via Bluetooth.

For Cornell students, trips might include biking from campus to Ithaca Commons to shop or pedaling across campus to get to class on time. The e-bikes can be taken all around Ithaca as well, from the airport to Ithaca College to the Shops at Ithaca Mall.

To end a trip, users must simply dismount and slide the lock back in place before confirming the end of their trip in the app. Once the app has detected that the bike is locked and located, users will then be prompted to take a photo of the bike.

The bikes do not need to be returned to a specific hub or location. Ithaca Bikeshare emphasizes the convenience of simply leaving the e-bike anywhere within the designated service area. However, Ithaca Bikeshare will waive the unlock fee of the next trip for riders who return their bike to a hub.

Between its cold climate and hilly terrain, Ithaca and Cornell’s campus pose challenges to bikers. Additionally, the lack of Ithaca Bikeshare hubs on campus means students may have to walk just to reach the nearest available bike. However, some students remained excited about the program’s implementation.

“I’m really excited about bikeshare coming to Ithaca! I’m a sophomore who doesn’t have a car, so for longer-distance trips I have to rely on the unreliable TCAT,” Chet Lukanic ’25 said. “I’ve used other bikeshare systems like New York City and Washington D.C. a lot, and I’m really excited to try it out soon. It’s just a little too snowy at the moment.” 

Ithaca Bikeshare plans to add more e-bikes to the program in the spring, when the warmer weather may bring increased ridership among Cornell students.