published Friday, April 20th, 2012

Chattanooga orders 300 bicycles for new bike-share program

by Cliff Hightower
Brandon Bell, with Bike Chattanooga, prepares bikes that will be placed at 30 bike share stations in and around the downtown area.
Brandon Bell, with Bike Chattanooga, prepares bikes that will be placed at 30 bike share stations in and around the downtown area.
Photo by Angela Lewis.
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$2 million: Cost of the bike share program

300: Bicycles available for rent

30: Bike stations across Chattanooga

Source: Bike Chattanooga

An armada of blue and light-green bicycles soon will be sailing around downtown Chattanooga -- or at least that's city leaders' hope.

Chattanooga has ordered 300 bicycles and will let the public ride them for a small fee.

"We were always a bicycle-friendly community, and we're getting more bicycle-friendly every day," said Mayor Ron Littlefield.

The city unveiled its bike-share program Thursday morning at Outdoor Chattanooga in Coolidge Park.

Starting Wednesday, anyone can rent a bicycle for $6 a day or $75 a year. Bike Chattanooga will administer the program.

Phillip Pugliese, the city's bicycle coordinator, said the bike-share program will be in line with the city's electric shuttle program -- groundbreaking and environmentally friendly.

"It'll change the fabric of the city," he said.

Thirty bike stations will be spread across downtown Chattanooga from the Southside to North Shore to the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga campus. Pugliese said the city already is looking at ways to expand into areas such as St. Elmo, Warner Park and Highland Plaza.

Jeremy Pomp, general manager of Bike Chattanooga, said the stations are "everywhere."

"You'll be able to pick a bike up and take it around the city," he said.

The largest bike stations will have 19 bikes, he said, but most will average around 15. Riders will do the rental paperwork on a digital screen. Users must sign a waiver and provide a credit card.

Portland-based Alta Bicycle Share, which also built the bikes, has a contract to operate the service in return for a share of the revenues, Pugliese said.

He could not provide details of the contract Thursday.

"It's still being worked out," he said.

Pomp said Chattanooga would be the fourth city worldwide to introduce the Alta program. The others are Melbourne, Australia; Boston; and Washington, D.C.

"Every city has had overwhelming success," Pomp said.

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