By JACQUELYN VOGHEL
Staff Writer for the Daily Hampshire Gazette (published 12/10/18)
project manager and Northampton Director of Planning and Sustainability Wayne
Feiden said that miles traveled this season exceeded expectations, although
membership figures fell somewhat short of original hopes.
electric-assist bike share program launched in June and has stations in
Northampton, Amherst, South Hadley, Holyoke and Springfield, and will also
expand to Easthampton in June 2019.
really happy the system seems to keep growing,” Feiden said. “There seems to be
saw 1,173 all-time members, 883 active members and 6,305 occasional members.
members hold an ongoing annual membership, founding membership or “go pass,”
which charges $2 per ride after a $5 registration fee. Regular memberships are
offered on a yearly basis, while occasional members can sign up for a monthly
membership, single-trip pass, day pass or go pass.
closed on Nov. 30 and will reopen on April 1.
Of the 50
stations initially slated to open this season, 47 were ready for use, providing
470 bikes. The remaining three stations should be set to open next season,
Feiden said, in addition to four new stations in Easthampton, bringing next
season’s anticipated total to 54 stations stocked with 540 bikes.
Northampton, UMass Amherst, and the downtown Springfield area have seen the
heaviest use, according to Feiden.
launched with a variety of pricing and usage options, ranging from a $90 annual
founding membership to a $2 single-trip pass. Bikes may be checked out and
returned to any station within the ValleyBike system. The average
ride lasts for about 2 miles, Feiden said, which is around the national average
for electric-assist bike shares. Non-electric-assist bike shares see
approximately 1-mile rides on average. The
electric-assist bikes were chosen for the program to make it easier for users
to travel longer distances, Feiden said, noting that this feature also
increases accessibility for older users and less experienced cyclists. While
non-electric-assist bikes require greater physical exertion, the longer average
distance traveled with electric-assist bikes works out to more exercise
overall, according to Feiden.
to the health benefits of biking, Feiden said the program aims to create more
transportation options for low-income communities and reduce the greenhouse
emissions associated with motor vehicles. Although each
community has also seen cyclists take trips longer than the average, with a
Northampton-to-Amherst ride “used somewhat heavily,” Feiden said the system was
mainly designed to accommodate shorter trips.
are 75-pound, heavy bikes,” he added. “If you want to go a mile or two, great.
But if you want to take a bike out for the entire day, you’re better off using
the bike in your basement for that.”
he hopes the bikes will eventually be available year-round, although this
development is “probably four or five years out.”
priority is extending the bikes out… We’d like to have additional towns, we’d
like to get additional sponsors,” Feiden said, highlighting towns that border
other ValleyBike communities, such as Hadley and Chicopee, as potential areas
will still be ironing out some maintenance issues over its off-season, Feiden
said, with damages most prominently arising from kids sitting in baskets and
breaking them. However, the bikes should all be ready by next season.
Jacquelyn Voghel can be reached at email@example.com. For more information about ValleyBike, contact Customer Service at (833) 825-2453 or go to www.valleybike.org