The University of Vermont and Champlain College, in partnership with CATMA are planning to launch a pilot bikeshare system with the intent that it will expand into a regional system throughout Burlington, South Burlington and Winooski communities. A “Request for Proposals” was released in November 2016 and Gotcha Bike was chosen to operate the system.
Gotcha Bike is the nation’s most advanced and sustainable bike sharing program thanks to the nation’s first Smart Bike, The Gotcha Bike. It is a fully customizable bike share program designed to complement and serve as a first and last mile mobility solution. Gotcha Bike offers an affordable, scalable and eco-friendly mode of transportation for universities, cities, corporate campuses and residential properties. The lightweight and extremely durable bicycles feature rustproof frames, Kevlar seats, chain less belt drives and puncture-resistant tires. Through a partnership with Social Bicycles (SoBi), all Gotcha Bikes have built-in smart lock technology that allows users to locate and access the bikes through a computer or smart phone (iOs and Android).
The Bikeshare Project Team believes that a regional bikeshare is viable and one of the key missing links in our transportation system that has been talked about for many years.
Bike share users will be able to choose a membership plan that best suits their needs including one-time, monthly, and annual memberships.
To transform our region by providing a high quality, convenient and affordable bikeshare system that will connect people to more places where they live, work, and play in Chittenden County by:
- Enhancing transportation options and connectivity
- Providing an affordable transportation option
- Improving access (in all senses of the word)
- Reducing car dependence
- Improving individual and community health
- Providing first/last mile connections
- Reducing greenhouse gas emissions
- Increasing new bike ridership and ownership
WHAT IS BIKE SHARE?
Bike sharing is an innovative transportation program, ideal for short distance point-to-point trips providing users the ability to pick up a bicycle at any self-serve bike-station and return it to any other bike station located within the system’s service area. Users can access the system through low-cost subscriptions ranging from a few dollars for one-day to annual memberships that in other communities generally cost between $60 and $100 per year.
Characteristics of a bike share program:
- For short-term or point-to-point use.
- Most rides are typically around 15-20 minutes and 1-3 miles.
- The bicycle can be returned to any number of self-serve bike share stations, including the original check out location. “Smart Bikes” can also be locked in any area that contains a “geo-fence” such as special events sites.
- Generally, the bicycles are one style and easy to operate with simple components and adjustable seats.
- The rental transaction is fully automated and there is no need for on-site staff.
WHY BIKE SHARE
There are over 50,000 shared bikes in 100+ urban areas, up from just a handful of programs in 2010. In addition, more than 30 colleges / universities have rolled out bike share programs. More and more bikeshares systems have “smart bikes” which can help overcome a lot of barriers such as system flexibility and costs.
According to the National League of Cities’ Center for Research & Innovation, benefits of bike share programs include:
- Low-cost public transit option for users
- Cost-effective infrastructure investment for cities
- Reduced congestion and wasted fuel
- Improved access to jobs and customers (77% of Deco Bike users in Miami were more likely to patronize a business with a bike share station close-by).
- Higher retail exposure and home values
- Increased connectivity and physical activity (30 minutes of daily exercise can significantly reduce the risk of heart disease)
- Decreased air pollution (e.g. Denver B-cycle helped avoid 729,783 lbs of CO2 in 2011)
THIS IS NOT “NEW STUFF”
Champlain College, UVM and City of Burlington employees already have “bike library” bikeshare systems. Bikeshare has been studied, anticipated and encouraged through previous City and institution planning efforts:
- Plan BTV Walk/Bike
- UVM Active Transportation Plan
- Champlain Active Transportation Plan
- 2011 Chittenden County Bikeshare Feasibility Study by Local Motion
- Draft Chittenden County Active Transportation Plan
- CATMA goal of enhancing transportation options
WHAT WILL THE SYSTEM LOOK LIKE?
This system size reflects national best practices related to bike station density, coverage area, and optimal bikes per station to ensure system reliability, and will be rolled out in phases.
- 100 bikes in 12-15 hubs (25 E-bikes)
- Majority of hubs on UVM and Champlain campus
- Hubs in key locations in Burlington, Winooski & So. Burlington
- Approx. 200 additional bikes in approx. 30 hubs (50 E-bikes)
- All over Chittenden County in Burlington, So. Burlington, Winooski, Colchester, Williston, Shelburne and Essex
- Primarily serving residents, commuters and employees
BUT WHAT ABOUT THE HILLS?
We have you covered. The bikes come with 7 speed hubs, with a low enough gear to get you up most of Burlington’s steeper streets. A portion of the fleet will be E-bikes, bikes that provide electric assist so that going up those hills is easier. You will still need to pedal but will get an added boost to help.
AND WHAT ABOUT HELMETS?
You are not legally required to wear a helmet in the state of Vermont, but WE HIGHLY RECOMMEND YOU DO! Although helmets will not be provided at kiosks or hub locations, we plan to explore options such as make helmets available to loan from local libraries as well as provide members with discounted coupons for local shop helmet purchases. We will be working with our bikeshops and advocate community to provide safety information, education and awareness for all users.
HOW MUCH WILL BIKE SHARE COST TO USE?
As the system gets closer to launch pricing structures will be set in a variety of ways. It is anticipated that we will have single-ride, daily, monthly, annual, and college student rates.
HOW DO YOU PAY TO USE BIKE SHARE?
The system will require a credit or debit card to become a member and check out a bike. This requirement is set to make riders more accountable for all costs and prevents theft. We are aware this presents some barriers for people who don’t have access to a credit or debit card, which is why we plan to implement programs to make sure it is accessible, such as having local partner retail locations where residents could create an account and pay for memberships using cash.
WHO WILL OPERATE THE BIKE SHARE SYSTEM?
Gotcha Bikes will operate the bike share system. CATMA will hold the contract. The Bike Share Committee will meet quarterly with stakeholders to discuss operations and performance of the bike share system.
HOW IS THE SYSTEM FUNDED?
The system will be funded primarily through a combination of sponsorship and membership subscriptions or user fees. Sponsorship is available at a number of levels and provides many great opportunities. View our business plan and how bikeshare benefits business.
- Drive brand awareness coupled with direct customer engagement and acquisition
- Establish an unobstructed path to connect sponsors brand with the 18–24 demographic at UVM and Champlain College
- Integrate sponsors brand into the culture of Burlington and Chittenden County through a CATMA-sanctioned sponsorship
- Connect emotionally with consumers by supporting the “shared economy”
- Fulfill a major need – easy, healthy transportation – while building brand affinity, loyalty, and advocacy
WHEN CAN I EXPECT TO USE THIS AWESOME NEW TRANSPORTATION SYSTEM?!?
The bike share system will launch a pilot with phase one before fall 2017. Once sponsorship is secured for operations, the bike share system can launch at any point before this date.
Read more about bike sharing
Bike Sharing in The United States: State of the Practice and Guide to Implementation
WCAX featured, “New bike-share program coming to Chittenden County”, on Sunday Morning show, May 14, 2017.
Bike Share Team
Nic Anderson, Champlain College
Abby Bleything, UVM
Jim Barr, UVM
Bryan Davis, CCRPC
Katie Martin, CATMA
Sandy Thibault, CATMA
20 West Canal St, Suite C9
Winooski, VT 05404