CORALVILLE — A small-scale dockless bike share program is being launched in Coralville’s Iowa River Landing District later this week or early next week.
The white bikes come with fenders, a bell, self-powered front and rear lights, a large basket, kickstand and a cushioned seat. Brakes, shifters and cables all contained internally in the bike frame or hubs, and a belt rather than a chain makes the bike move, so it minimizes rust, the need for oil and maintenance.
“We are really interested in ridership numbers to see if we can get more people riding bikes,” said Mark Wyatt, executive director of the Iowa Bicycle Coalition, which is spearheading the initiative.
The coalition is starting with three bikes, but Wyatt said if ridership is strong they could easily expand to include more bikes and more pockets of the community.
The concept is a bit different from bike-sharing programs in Chicago, Des Moines and other metro areas. In those, users must retrieve and return bikes from a kiosk.
In a dockless system, the bike could be just about anywhere. Users download a mobile phone application called Koloni Share, from which they can locate the nearest available bike.
Once payment information is entered through the app, the pedals unlock and the user can begin their bike ride. To return the bike, which has GPS tracking, the user drops off the bike in the same vicinity they picked it up.
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Once payment is completed — the fee will be $3 per hour — the pedals lock and the user leaves the bike upright with the kickstand or leaning against a building. If someone tries to take the bike illegally, an alarm goes off, he said.
“We think the timing is right to try this,” Wyatt said. “It’s a good small-scale experiment.”
The Iowa River Landing is quickly growing, which creates a good opportunity for a bike share to succeed, he said.
The Marriott Hotel and Convention Center with 286 rooms is an anchor of the district, Homewood Suites has 100 rooms, and Springhill Suites with 100 rooms and Drury Inn with 185 units are in the pipeline. A new housing complex with 310 units is under construction, a $190 million arena is in the works, and Coralville’s bike trail network connects Iowa River Landing to a riverside trail and other parts of town.
The partnership of vendors behind the bike share are Iowa companies, Wyatt notes. Cycle Force, which distributes the bikes, and Cygnet, which makes the bikes, evolved out of an Iowa State University class. Koloni Share is based in Pocahontas. The vendors also have worked on bike share programs in Mason City, Forest City, Clinton and Cedar Falls, Wyatt said.
Iowa City and University of Iowa have been discussing launching a bike share for years, but it has yet to get off the ground despite more than $185,000 in grants. Cedar Rapids was planning to launch a bike share this spring, but pushed those plans back until next year.
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