ValleyBike Share coming to Pioneer Valley in 2018
Tyra Wu ‘19
Northampton is soon to be one of five municipalities to place rent-a-bike stations throughout the region through the ValleyBike Share, a project started by the Pioneer Planning Commission. There will be 28 stations placed in high-traffic areas throughout Amherst, Mount Holyoke, South Hadley and Springfield.
The planning commision started on the project in 2015 and spent $87,000 in state money on feasibility studies and preparation. In May, the Massachusetts Department of Transportation issued a contract for $1.3 million in funding for ValleyBike Share from the federal Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality program. This effort is based on similar bike-share programs in Boston and New York City. Smith College is one among many potential sponsors, including Cooley Dickinson Hospital and Florence Savings Bank.
“I think it’s an excellent idea for students who need to shorten their commute but can’t afford to spend a ton of money on a bike,” Ali Meneghetti ’19 said. “Plus that way they don’t have to worry about it getting stolen or storing it over the summer.”
ValleyBike Share selected Bewegen Technologies to provide both traditional and electric bikes, as well as automated rental stations. The company also does bike share programs in Alabama, Maryland, Utah and Virginia.
In order to use the bikes, individuals purchase memberships, estimated to be between $50 and $100 annually; however, the use of a bike for less than a half-hour would be free. Bicyclists do not have to return the bike to the same station they purchased it, which allows for one-way trips.
“I couldn’t be more excited to support this innovative ‘last mile’ public transportation system using electric-assist bicycles for our City, this will greatly increase the number of users,” Springfield Mayor Domenic J. Sarno said in a statement.
The program was originally set to begin this summer. However, the start date was pushed back in order to give Bewegen Technologies time to get the program up and running.
“We just want to give people the option to forgo the car keys and experience a new community, or experience their own in new way,” Patrick Beaudry, communications manager at the Pioneer Valley Planning Commission, said to MassLive.