(Photo by Stephen Babcock)
A bikeshare program is set to appear in Baltimore in the fall, and some of the bikes will provide a little electric help for going up hills.
The city’s Board of Estimates awarded a $2.3 million contract to Bewegen Technologies to create Charm City Bike Share. The Canadian company also has agreements to operate bikeshares in Birmingham, Ala., and Richmond, Va.
The bikeshare will include 50 stations and 500 bikes, according to Bewegen. Early plans indicate the stations will initially be located in the downtown area, with locations also in Southeast Baltimore (Canton, Fells Point and Patterson Park), South Baltimore (Federal Hill and Locust Point) and Union Square, Hollins Market and Jonestown. Pricing is still being worked out.
“This program differs from bike rental programs because it is designed specifically for short trips,” Johnson said.
About 200 of those bikes will be powered by a system known as pedelec, which provides electric-powered pedal assistance for riders. The system also features built-in GPS that shows each bike’s location, and features an app.
While Bewegen will provide the bikes, the system will be run by CorpsLogistics, which plans to hire about 80 veterans through partnerships with nonprofits and military bases. The company is also moving its headquarters to Baltimore, said Bewegen CEO Alain Ayotte.
Board of Estimates documents identified two other bidders, Motivate International and Zagster Inc., which protested the award to Bewegen.
The city has tried to implement a bikeshare program twice before. Montreal-based Public Bike System was selected in 2014, but the company went bankrupt. Despite a contract, a 2010 attempt involving Wisconsin-based B-Cycle never got off the ground.
At a Wednesday morning press conference outside City Hall to show off the bikes, Bicycle Advisory Commission chair Jon Laria spoke of the bikeshare as needed in a city that is lacking transit options, even if it wouldn’t solve all of those transportation issues.
“This is not a luxury,” he said. “This is a necessity. This is a market-driven initiative.”