Dayton Bike Share: A dream on two wheels

Bike share about to become a reality in downtown Dayton

Cyclists, rejoice: Now you have something new to look forward to.

The people behind Greater Dayton Regional Transit Authority, the Downtown Dayton Partnership and Bike Miami Valley are preparing to launch a bike share program this spring and summer.

This program will require a credit card or a Bike Miami Valley membership to pull bikes from a planned 24 docks in and around downtown for short rides of 30 minutes or less.

Organizers say it’s based on a proven technology that has worked in other cities, including Cincinnati.

The current plan calls for 225 bicycles that can be rented from and returned to 24 docking stations for limited trips.

Scott Murphy, business development director for the Downtown Dayton Partnership and chair of Bike Miami Valley, called the program “fourth-generation bike sharing.” Credit- or membership-card requirements push theft rates down, he said.

“It’s proven really reliable,” Murphy said. “A lot of communities are making these investments.”

Sandy Gudorf, the downtown partnership’s executive director, said the program’s track record proved a selling point. Waterloo, Wisc.-based B-Cycle has its bikes and kiosks in more than 20 cities, among them Cincinnati.

“We’ve hired a good vendor,” Gudorf said.

Jason Barron, executive director of Cincinnati Red Bike, said the response in his city so far “has been everything I had dreamed.”

Cincinnati Red Bike has 30 docking stations and about 260 bikes, Barron said. Since that program’s mid-September launch, residents have had 18,000 rides, even through cold-weather months, he said.

“It gets me excited for spring, that’s for darn sure,” said Barron, a native of Vandalia.

He said there have been no problems with attempted thefts. The program’s red bikes are clearly labeled, have distinctive front ends and are GPS-enabled, he said.

“Honestly, what we’ve seen is that folks are protective of them,” Barron said, adding that residents sometimes report what they believe are attempts to steal the program’s bikes.

The capital required to launch the program in Dayton was about $1 million. First-year operations could add another million to that figure, Gudorf estimated.

Organizers are recruiting “founding partners” to further contribute by sponsoring docking stations, Murphy said. Employers and organizations can host docking stations for $60,000 — $20,000 a year for three years.

The program was first announced in May 2014, when RTA and Downtown Dayton Partnership said the region had received $800,000 from the Federal Surface Transportation budget, matched further by $250,000 from Dayton government.

RTA will own and maintain the bikes. Once a web site is running, riders will be able to buy memberships online.

There will be at least two ways to ride, said Laura Estandia, executive director of Bike Miami Valley. One will be to buy a Bike Miami Valley membership. The other will be to use a credit card.

“The system is designed for short trips, running errands, getting from work to lunch, those types of rides,” Estandia said. “With the station map that we’ve set up, a lot of those rides will be able to be completed within 30 minutes.”

The stations will be around “greater downtown” and environs, she said. Station maps won’t be available until early March. Murphy said there is no firm date yet for setting up docking stations, but Bike Miami Valley is targeting May.

If riders have bikes out longer than 30 minutes, fees will be added. Daily passes can also be purchased allowing unlimited bike check-outs for 24 hours, Estandia said.

The registration web site isn’t ready, but Estandia expects users to be able to get to the site from