'Progressive mindset' attracts manager to Bike Chattanooga

'Progressive mindset' attracts manager to Bike Chattanooga

January 26th, 2012 by Ansley Haman in News

Jeremy Pomp, of Alta Bike Systems, shows off a demo bike while explaining the new Chattanooga Bicycle Transport System during a luncheon at Wally's Restaurant in East Ridge on Wednesday afternoon.

Photo by Dan Henry/Times Free Press.

HOW TO RIDE

* The program is scheduled to launch in April.

* Memberships are $6 for 24 hours

* Individual bikes can only be kept for one hour, but you can take multiple trips within those 24 hours as long as you turn in each bike within one hour.

* Annual memberships will be $75 and are currently discounted to $60. These allow for unlimited one-hour trips.

* Individual rides that last more than an hour will cost an additional $5 for each additional half-hour.

* A list of planned bike stations will soon be posted at www.bikechattanooga.com.

* Riders must be at least 17, the legal age at which they can ride without a helmet in Tennessee.

Jeremy Pomp moved to Chattanooga sight unseen from Washington, D.C., late last year, lured by a local effort that crosses his interests in transportation, fitness and the environment.

So he was especially happy to hear that 300 bicycles will hit the city's streets in April as Bike Chattanooga unveils its point-to-point share program, the largest of its kind in the South.

The program, announced during the quarterly gathering of the Advisory Council on Traffic Safety at Wally's Restaurant in East Ridge, is modeled after bike shares in cities like London, Boston and Washington.

"When I heard Chattanooga was getting the same programs as these world-class cities, I said, 'I'll go. They have a progressive mindset,'" said Pomp, general manager of Bike Chattanooga. "Thank you for being the pioneers."

Under the program, riders will be able to pick up and drop off bikes at 30 stations throughout downtown, North Shore, Southside and on the campus of the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga.

Pomp, who earned his master's in business administration from Georgetown University, consulted for the popular Capital Bikeshare in Washington. Riders there took at least 1 million short trips on the city's hallmark red bicycles during the program's first year.

"This is absolutely transformative for communities," Pomp said. "It has become very quickly part of the fabric for them."

POLL: Will you take part in the regional bikeshare program?

Chattanooga Bike now has two demo stations, one at the south end of the Walnut Street Bridge and another in front of the Chattanooga Choo Choo. Bicycles from other cities' share programs, including the Capital Bikeshare, are parked in the docks.

The public-private partnership between Alta Bike Systems and Chattanooga, funded during its first year by a $2 million federal grant, is designed to be self-sustaining after its first year. The program is managed by Outdoor Chattanooga.

Pomp said his goal is to show people that bikes can be more than vehicles for family recreation and competitive cycling. They can be mass transit.

The Chattanooga bicycles are designed for the city's terrain. They have flashing LED lights, a global positioning system, and seven speeds to help riders handle the city's hills.

The bikes lock into solar-powered stations that have credit card payment systems.

At Wednesday's meeting, City Judge Russell Bean asked about the potential for bicycle thefts.

"They've backed up an F-150, tied a chain to it, and you cannot remove the bike," Pomp assured him.

Tennessee Highway Patrol Lt. John Harmon asked whether the stations would display the state's bicycle laws.

Pomp assured him they would, along with city maps.

Carleena Angwin, a Chattanooga-Hamilton County Health Department injury prevention health educator, took a blue demo bicycle for a spin around Wally's parking lot. She described the ride as a "smooth" one.