MANCHESTER, NH – A presentation on a proposed city-wide bike share program got the green light during Monday night’s meeting of the Committee on Lands and Buildings.
A brief presentation by Carol Gayman, who is spearheading the initiative, was made before the three-member aldermanic committee which included Aldermen Pat Long, Barbara Shaw and Kevin Cavanaugh. Gayman outlined how the program would work in cooperation with Zagster, a national bike share platform, currently operating more than 150 programs in 30 states.
According to Gayman, Manchester’s bike share committee has secured sponsorships for six bike racks to launch the two-year pilot program – Southern New Hampshire University will sponsor three racks, and the YMCA, the Puritan Backroom Restaurant and McLane Middleton will each sponsor one at a cost of $9,000 annually for each rack, which accommodates five bicycles. In return, each entity will have their logos appear on bikes, and also on the Zagster Smartphone app used to unlock the bikes for use.
Zagster will set up and install the racks, and provide and maintain bicycles through the Bike Barn, located on Commercial Street in the Millyard.
Cost to consumers would be $2 per hour to rent a bicycle, with options for monthly and yearly memberships of $15 and $30 respectively. Bike locks are also provided. Riders can take a bike from one location and return to any other location.
Gayman pointed out that currently bike rentals in the city cost about $30 a day, making it prohibitive to most consumers.
“This is not a money-making situation, but rather one meant to enhance the health and wellness of the community,” Gayman said.
Zagster also carries $4 million in insurance liability, which would include the non-profit Bike Manchester and the City of Manchester as insured parties.
The goal of the two-year pilot program would be to prove having bicycles available is an asset to the city, expand the number of bike racks, and become self-sustaining.
Will Stewart, representing Bike Manchester, spoke about the recent gradual addition of bike lanes around the city, which his group has advocated for, and said bringing a bike share program into the city will make riding easier and more convenient.
“We believe it will encourage greater bike ridership around the city,” Stewart said.
Research into how other cities with harsh winters handle the bike share program during those months would advise Manchester’s program, Gayman said.
“Obviously we live in New England, and there is snow in the winter. We have been in contact with the mayors of Rochester, New York, and Carmel, Indiana, and what they do is hibernate the bikes in early December, and then bring them out in March,” Gayman said. “The city’s Department of Public Works will allow us space to store the bikes.”
Six initial bike racks are being proposed for location at the YMCA on Mechanic Street; The Puritan on Hooksett Road with access to Livingston Park; McLane law firm at 900 Elm Street/City Hall Plaza; at SNHU’s request, Colonial Village as a hub site for many SNHU student commuters and also at their online campus in the Millyard; and underneath the Notre Dame Bridge.
Gayman said the group would like to launch the program in mid-May.
Alderman Pat Long inquired about accessibility issues – including making sure the bike racks did not impede foot or motor traffic, or parking. Zagster also features a line of accessible bicycles including handcycles, side-by-side tandems, heavy-duty cruisers, tricycles, recumbent tricycles and cargo tricycles, although those options were not discussed at the committee meeting.
The bike share program is expected to be placed on the agenda for the April 18 Board of Aldermen meeting for full board discussion.