Richmond has relaunched its defunct electric bike-share program with a new operator and freshly rebranded bikes. Residents can now rent bikes from several bike hubs around town.
The new bikeshare contractor, Today Bikes, will manage the system. The city’s previous bike-share shut down in 2022 when the contractor, Bolt Mobility, abruptly shut down, abandoning bikes in several cities, including Richmond.
City Manager Shasa Curl said the Richmond community will begin to see the rollout of the rebranded bikes to many of the most utilized bike hubs while citywide expansion planning is underway.
“The City of Richmond’s transportation staff and Today Bikes will be conducting community outreach to hear where residents would like to see the bike hubs,” Curl wrote in her weekly report.
Bolt Mobility left about 60 bikes at various hubs throughout the city. According to a city staff report, it defaulted on their local warehouse lease containing more than 150 additional bikes, many in various states of disrepair and hub equipment.
The city council approved an emergency contract with Charleston Mobility to save the program. However, legal issues, mounting costs, equipment replacement, and theft depleted the $345,000 emergency contract by June 2023.
Thieves twice targeted the repaired bikes, replacement batteries, and new bikes stored in two separate city property locations, resulting in additional expenses.
In September, the council approved $ 1.11 million from the Environmental and Community Investment Agreement Transportation grant fund to support the citywide electric bike-share program expansion. This includes a grant match to perform eBike share duties related to the Richmond Rising Transformative Climate Communities Grant.
The council also approved a sole-source $2.1 million contract with Charleston Mobility LLC for bike-share program operations. The entire project has a projected $5.3 million five-year budget.
Grandview found bikes available at the bike hub across from the Richmond Civic Center. To rent a bike, users should download the app from the App Store. Once at the rental location, scan the QR code to unlock the bike and stow the cable lock. It costs $2 to unlock and ride it for the first 15 minutes. Each additional minute is 20 cents.
The bikes are said to be rebranded Bolt bikes from the original bike share program. When we first tested those bikes, we noticed the electric assist didn’t kick in right away, making the heavy bike feel unwieldy until it was up to speed.
The cyclists at Grandview headquarters are dedicated to our analog bikes but found the zippy ride of the e-bike enjoyable. The electric boost quickly gets you moving to about 15 mph.
The city is planning a bike-share relaunch event in January.
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