Congratulations, Atlanta – you have a shiny new bike share program.
The city will unveil its first round of short-term bicycle rental stations in a ribbon-cutting event at Noon Thursday at Woodruff Park.
The pilot program, operated by CycleHop, will start with 100 bicycles at ten stations in the downtown area. You can see a map showing the stations here.
Thursday's event marks the beginning of the "demonstration" phase with 100 bike-share bikes and 10 stations in downtown Atlanta. By the end of 2016, the program will include 500 bikes at 50 stations, serving an area roughly bordered by Lee Street, Atlanta University Center, Georgia Tech, Piedmont Park and the Carter Center. Eventually the program plans to expand to more City of Atlanta neighborhoods. Further out, the city hopes that the program will expand to over 1,500 bicycles at 150 stations.
Admittedly Atlanta is a little late to the bike-share party – 82 such systems have been in operation in more than 100 cities across the U.S. since 2010, including ones in Smyrna and Alpharetta. Atlanta's program has faced some delays, which Chief Bicycle Officer Becky Katz explained to WABE was due to complications with contracts and permits.
To rent a bike, users create an account with Relay Bike Share, then enter their account number and PIN passcode on a bicycle keypad. (The related app also lets users reserve a bike for a certain time.) The bikes, which are tracked with GPS tags, can be locked to any of the stations around town and unlocked again by the same user as long as they have the bike rented out.
Users can choose from four price plans that are based on usage time. The simplest is to pay $8 an hour (prorated). Other plans for regular users run at $15 a month, which allows an hour's use a day, and $20 a month, which allows 90 minutes a day. There is also a special plan for area university students for $25 a semester that allows for an hour's time each day. Additional fees may be added depending on overtime use and on bike returns that are away from the stations.
The city hopes that the system will augment other forms of transit around town, including MARTA, the Streetcar, buses and the Beltline.