E-bikes set to hit downtown streets soon in trial program

Boise GreenBike
Posted at 10:45 AM, Jun 16, 2022
and last updated 2022-06-16 12:45:26-04

This article was originally published by Don Day in BoiseDev.

A new option for getting around in Downtown Boise will hit the streets soon.

As we told you in Idaho First earlier this year, the defunct Boise GreenBike program will get a replacement: Boise Bike Share 2.0.

Valley Regional Transit will start a pilot program in just a few weeks – with 50 bikes hitting the streets on July 1st, lasting until just before Halloween.

The Capital City Development Corp. agreed to fund up to $100,000 for the pilot program, which will place bikes in and around its primary urban renewal districts in Downtown Boise and along State St.

Instead of the pedal bikes with keypad locks and old-school LCD screens, the new bikes will be electric, linked to an app and revved up with the scan of a QR code, much like the scooters operating in the city.

“Electric-assist bike share is something that people need and want,” VRT Programs Director Dave Fotsch told CCDC Monday. “The next step is to convince people to invest in it, beyond just CCDC.”

The $100,000 will be awarded in two pots. The first $50,000 will be provided outright. An additional $50,000 will be available if VRT is able to find matching donations.

Starting small

“We intend to start with 50 bikes, because that’s the minimum our partner will allow us, and the investment from CCDC will allow that,” Fotsch said. “As we are able to attract more sponsors and matching funds from CCDC, we will expand that during the pilot.”

Much like the defunct Boise Green Bike program, the bikes will be stored at hub stations around downtown and on State. Folks will be encouraged to lock the bikes to the hubs or racks and will pay a penalty if they don’t return them to a designated spot.

Fotsch said they hope to expand out to 300 bikes – and beyond the end of this year’s trial. He says it will provide a key “last mile” mode of transit, and hopes it will make it easier for folks to get to bus routes.

“Expanding out to the State Street corridor would allow us to expand our equity program,” he said. “We would provide very low-cost access to transit and transportation, and allow them to use the bikes to get where they need to go. It would help feed the transit routes, like route 9, our busiest route.”

Boise Green Bike shut down afterfacing aging technology and difficulty attracting key sponsors. Fotsch said usage also declined after e-scooters rolled out, but said he hopes the ease of use for the bike share program will make it popular.

“The more bikes that are out there, the more likely it will be to be a successful program,” he said.