The first phase of Richmond’s new bike-share system is on its way to the streets of the central city.
With the help of a substantial grant from the Federal Highway Administration’s Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Program, an initial set of stations and bicycles, known as the B, is fully funded and the city hopes for a fall launch.
Bike-share systems are popular in cities across the country and around the world, but it’s a new transportation idea for Richmond. The idea is that you can pick up a bike at one station, ride it to another, and leave it there.
But don’t mistake bike sharing for traditional bicycle rental. These bikes are meant for station-to-station, short-term trips — and fees will start racking up if you keep one for more than 45 minutes.
The simplicity of such systems makes them an especially ideal way to make quick trips at awkward in-between distances, where your destination might be a bit too far to walk but a bit too close to consider driving a car or taking a bus. Even bike owners find bike share handy for all those times they’d make a trip on their bikes — if only they’d brought them along.
The bright yellow bikes will be furnished and maintained by Canada-based vendor Bewegen and managed by Corps Logistics, a veteran-owned company that’s doing the same thing in Baltimore, where the program also is rolling out this fall.
The bikes are technological marvels. Users can unlock them with a smartphone app. And they’re equipped with LED lights, an on-board display, and GPS so the operators can keep track of where all the bikes are and intervene to fix things when one station has too many or too few.
Here’s where you can expect to see the first round of B Hives hit the streets. But don’t despair if your favorite central neighborhood isn’t included in the initial rollout. When the system’s second phase launches in Church Hill, the financial district and Shockoe Bottom, among other places, it’s expected to come with even fancier electric-assist bikes to make climbing the mightiest hills a cinch.