NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) – Riders will locate bikes, unlock them and pay for their trip all from a cell phone app when a new bike share program begins Friday.
Pace is a free download and it’ll cost riders $1 every half hour to rent a bike.
“It’s healthy. It’s a fun way to explore the city,” said Paul Filion, transportation construction project manager.
Filion oversees alternate transportation; including, bus, light rail and ferry. He says the bike share program ties into all three.
“There’s going to be a lot of riders,” he predicts of bike share.
The City of Norfolk has spent years building bike lanes, in some cases removing car lanes to make it happen. Filion says he believes the city is bike friendly and hopes the bike share program will help get more riders on the road.
“I think what people fail to realize is you can cover a lot of ground on a bike as opposed to walking several blocks down the street,” Filion said. “”You don’t have to be a super experienced rider to go out and enjoy it, but you can also be an experienced cyclist and still have fun with it.”
The new program will start with 150 bikes and there will eventually be 250 bikes in rotation, according to Filion. To start, he says there will be 15 bike racks spread from downtown to Old Dominion University and the Virginia Zoo.
When riders are done, they can either return their bike to a Pace docking station or use an attached lock to secure the bike to any public bike rack.
“It’s a great way to get exercise and get where you are going,” said Sara Miller, who lives in Norfolk.
“Let’s say you are drinking. You can ride your bike to a bar, drink and maybe Uber home. I just think it gives you more options.”
The partnership between the city and Pace comes at no cost to taxpayers, according to Filion, who says the company will earn money through rental fees and sponsored advertisements.
So far, six sponsors have signed a three-year, $9,000 contract with Zagster to have advertisements put on five bikes.
Whether it’s for work or for leisure, Filion says getting around is becoming a lot easier.
“Are you going to get everybody on a bike, no, but you have a lot of folks that if you offer safer place to ride and some facilities, they’ll be out and enjoying it.”