PARK CITY— Dozens of Park City residents on brand-new electric bikes rode up to the McPolin Barn for the launch of the nation's first fully electric bike-share program recently.
Park City officials say the first phase of its program, operated by Canadian company Bewegen, will support 88 new pedal-assisted e-bikes. The bikes will initially be available at nine charging stations throughout Park City and the Snyderville Basin.
The bikes, featuring a pedal-assisted lithium battery, easily conquered the hills leading up to the barn from the Kimball Junction Transit Center. The assisted-pedal system feels much like the cruise-control on a car going up a hill, adding the powered assistance with each rotation of the pedals. The assistance is enough to keep the roughly 80 pound bikes and their riders going at a top-speed of 14 mph for about 60 miles between charges. On the center of the handlebars, a display shows the riders their current speed.
"Today marks a giant leap in our efforts to provide viable travel alternatives for our residents and visitors," Caroline Rodriguez, transportation planning director for Summit County, said Wednesday.
The launch of the new bike fleet fulfills the plan of a Summit County ballot initiative passed last November calling for an electric bike fleet. The partnership between Summit County and Park City helps the county's carbon reduction goals and complements the county's new all-electric bus fleet.
"This is one of 850 bike-share programs throughout the world," said Park City transportation planning manager Alfred Knotts. "These types of programs also further our community in a healthy and active way."
Knotts said the program also helps Park City gain recognition with the League of American Bicyclists as a bicycle friendly community.
"I think the e-bikes are a way to reduce traffic and congestion, be responsible about energy and get people a different experience about what our community is," Park City Mayor Jack Thomas said.
The bikes are part of Park City's plan to have a net-zero carbon footprint by 2022, he noted.
Thomas said he enjoyed the opportunity to commute through the city in an economical way that allowed him to see and hear the natural sights and sounds of Summit County.
"Although they feel heavy at first, once you get on and are riding, it was very easy to manuever over the curbs and around people," said Park City resident Kim Carson. "I can drive to a place where there are bikes available and I definitely plan on using it."
The bike share program offers 45-minute rides for $2 and charges an additional $2 for each half hour over the first 45-minutes. Users may also purchase a weekly pass of $18 and a monthly pass of $30. An annual pass is also available for $90.
The program has charging stations at the Kimball Junction Transit Center, Newpark Plaza, Canyon Corners, Tanger Outlets, Canyons Transit Hub, Park City Library, Park Avenue Bike Station, Old Town Transit Center and the Prospector Neighborhood.
The program will launch a second phase in the summer of 2018, implementing additional charging stations to expand the program.