BOISE, Idaho — Looking to get around the City of Trees with some more speed? Good news, a new program is expected to launch in early July.
“We have 50 new bikes from dropped mobility. That is our vendor partner in this pilot program that we will be launching next month,” Programs Director with Valley Regional Transit, Dave Fotsch said.
Fotsch said the new bike program set to launch this summer is the long-awaited replacement for VRT’s former bike program.
“You may have heard about it. There was a worldwide pandemic, so it was a perfect storm of events that led to the demise of Boise GreenBike,” Fotsch said.
The Greenbike program featured traditional 3-speed pedal bikes. The new crop of cycles is much different, it’s electric.
“E-bikes are the thing these days. They became very popular during the pandemic as people were looking for something to do besides sit at home and watch Netflix," Fotsch said. "So, the real advantage of an e-bike is that every time you pedal, you get a boost from the electric motor. So, it allows you to travel further with less effort, less sweat in a hot summer day and here in Idaho."
Visitors to Idaho and Boise specifically agree.
“There is a path that I noticed near my hotel already, and I see that there's a lot of people riding bikes as well, so any bike would definitely be a little bit easier on myself and just explore more as well,” Jaime Avila, a visitor to Boise this week said.
Avila is visiting Boise from Arizona. He said if electric bikes were available today, he would love to hop on to explore a new place.
“Yeah. Just exploring on a bike would be nice and the walking around is obviously nice as well,” Avila said.
Justin is also visiting Boise this week. He makes a popular point about gas prices. At home, Justin notices that e-bikes are very popular near the local university. A setting like Boise seems like a good fit based on what he has seen.
“Nowadays with gas pricing, you know, raising, it's definitely convenient if you're not on a bike or skateboard or a scooter," Justin said. "The electric bikes are definitely there for everyone to use and they do use them a lot."
The new e-bikes are fresh into town, getting some tune ups and spot checks before they hit the streets. The program will start as a pilot program sponsored by Valley Regional Transit, Treasure Valley Clean Cities Coalition and the Idaho Advocates for Community Transportation.
The program was made possible with help from the Capital City Development Corporation, which provided $50,000 for the concept.
“I wish we had more than 50 bikes. Our old system, we had 127. So, we're only going to be able to serve about half as many people, but as interest grows and as we generate revenue through the program, we will add more bikes," Fotsch said. "Our ultimate goal is 300 bikes next year."
While the e-bikes are a fun way to get around town, VRT has goals to make a real impact on the community for years to come.
“We are hoping that they use them instead of driving, so they can use it to run errands, to go to the gym, to go to work if they want, but we're also looking at having people use it as the first or last mile to and from transit. We are, after all, a transit agency,” Fotsch said.
Bikes will be available for rent 24/7 at $10 per hour. Monthly memberships are available for $39, which would include one hour of free ride time each day, according to VRT.
There will be 50 electric bicycles provided by Drop Mobility that will be available across the city. Drop Mobility won a VRT bike-share proposal two years ago.
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