Taking your own slow roll across Buffalo will be more convenient and a little cheaper starting Thursday.
People will be able to rent one of the 200 new bikes that are part of Reddy Bikeshare at various rates. Reddy is establishing nearly 30 bike stations around the city, from the southern Outer Harbor to the north's Hertel Avenue.
“We’re hoping to ignite or reignite a new love of biking among people who maybe haven’t been on one in a while,” said Jennifer White, the marketing and communications executive of Reddy Bikeshare.
Independent Health and Shared Mobility Inc. – the two groups partnering for the program – began installing bike stations at Delaware Park and Canalside on Tuesday. Additional bike stations will crop up through next week.
After a launch event at Delaware Park at 11 a.m. Thursday, several of these stations go live. All you then need to do to rent a bike is download the Social Bicycles app on your smartphone and create an account.
You can reserve a bike from your smartphone or by walking up to a station and typing an account ID number into the rear panel of an available bike.
Then, you’re free to take the bike wherever you want within city limits.
The cost varies depending on which pass you purchase. A daily pass costs $8.50 plus 6 cents a minute. A group pass – up to four people on one account – costs $20 per month plus 6 cents a minute, and a yearly pass costs $55 plus a penny a minute.
The bikes can be locked up at any of the bike share stations or public bike racks, unlike similar bike share programs in New York City, where bikes must be locked to a specific docking site. Bikes left at public bike racks cost another $2, while those locked at other bike share stations are 25 cents. Locations along Elmwood Avenue and Allen and Main streets are free.
The bikes will track calories burned, distance traveled, ride length, estimated reduction in carbon dioxide and a calculation of money saved by biking instead of driving.
White said Buffalo is a feasible host for a bike share program because of its infrastructure, density and bike lanes, not to mention increasing interest in biking from the community, as shown by events like Slow Roll and SkyRide, for which the program might supply bikes.
A pilot program began at the University at Buffalo four years ago, and more than 800 people signed up.
Other bike share programs are beginning around the country, including in Portland, which White said is considered the biking capital of the nation. The program's establishment in this city, White said, is “further evidence of the growth and development of Buffalo.”
“We have seen such a huge culture shift in just the past five years alone in regards to biking as a form of transportation, recreation and exercise,” she said. “We love it.”
Passersby walked through or peered at the empty, new, bright red bike rack sitting near the Canalside metro line. Larry Argenta and two other HSBC employees stopped to read the Reddy Bikeshare sign on their way back to work. They were happy to see more development in the Canalside area.
“I’m excited to see anything down here,” Argenta said. “We’ve been looking at parking lots for 30 years.”