Organizers of a new bicycle-sharing program in midtown hope to alleviate traffic and lure more customers while also possibly benefiting from advanced software and security technology for the service.
There are several bicycle-sharing programs in the country including Denver, Minneapolis and Washington, D.C. The approach of Sacramento community leaders is unique, though.
Rather than buying thousands of bikes with municipal funding like programs in other cities, Midtown Bike Share will start with 12 bikes and no public money.
"Folks like to do things in a big way, but that's expensive, and it takes time to get it all figured out," said Rob Kerth, executive director of the Midtown Business Association, which is sponsoring the program. "We'll know by December how to do a big system if people use it."
The six-month pilot program started Friday with a ribbon-cutting ceremony at 28th and J streets, the site of one of two rental kiosks.
Kerth and the program's organizers will look for ways to add more bicycles and kiosks around the city if the program is successful.
Priority Parking donated the space for the two kiosks. The other kiosk is at 16th and I streets.
Ikon Cycles donated the Bianchi bicycles, which are equipped with special gravity-activated components on the wheels and the seat to prevent theft. In order to remove and unlock the wheels or the seat, the rider must turn the bicycle upside down.
Thieves will not be able to steal parts as long as the bikes are locked, right side up, in their vaults.
Riders must swipe their credit card at the kiosk to unlock a bike. A deposit is held on the bike until it is returned, but the first half hour is free.
CURB System, a Reno software company, donated the equipment and software, which founder Kane Dutt says could be expanded to allow users to purchase car parking from the same machines.
Riders could park next to the kiosks and pay for parking and a bicycle rental at the same time. The machines could also call users to alert them when their parking time is close to expiring, and adjust parking rates to reflect demand.
For now, riders pay $2 for the second half hour of their rental. Each subsequent hour is $4. Bicycles can also be rented for $30 a day. If the bicycle is not returned within 48 hours, the rider's card will be charged for a replacement bicycle.
Riders must bring helmets, locks and lights.