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Schenectady asked to chip in $75K for bike-sharing program

Schenectady asked to chip in $75K for bike-sharing program

City has lowest ridership of four cities
Schenectady asked to chip in $75K for bike-sharing program
Ride-share bicycles are lined up in front of the Schenectady County Public Library on Clinton Street.
Photographer: Gazette file photo

SCHENECTADY — The Capital District Transportation Authority (CDTA) is asking Schenectady to kick in $75,000 over the next three years to support its bike-sharing program.

CDPHP Cycle!, now entering its third year, provides rental bikes at dozens of automated kiosks in Albany, Troy, Saratoga Springs, Schenectady, and, as of this week, Cohoes.

“As the program continues to evolve, they reached out to all the municipalities about having an annual share,” City Engineer Chris Wallin told the City Development & Planning Committee on Monday.

Each of the four initial cities contributed $25,000 annually for the first two years.

The program has 7,000 members, and has more than doubled from 160 to 350 bicycles in the first two seasons, according to CDTA.

Numerous plans are available, ranging from a flat rental rate for $5 per hour to a seasonal pass for $85.

Schenectady, home to 13 hubs with nearly 50 bikes, ranks at the bottom of the four-city pack when it comes to total rides over the program’s tenure.

Ridership numbers

By the close of the second season last year, the city notched 1,370 rides, according to CDTA, or 6 percent of total ridership. 

Albany had 15,221; Saratoga Springs, 3,387 and Troy, 2,400.

CDTA operates the bike-share program with corporate sponsorship from CDPHP, a regional health insurance firm. Uber-owned company Jump provides the bicycles.

CDTA officials said last September it had met its original goals for 2018 ridership, as ridership exceeded 15,000 trips.

Wallin said he was supportive of the program, noting CDPHP Cycle! complements city efforts to make the city more bike-friendly, including conducting studies in Hamilton Hill and Mont Pleasant on how to make the neighborhoods more bikeable.

Accommodating bicyclists also played a leading role when selecting a design for the upcoming replacement of the Kings Road Bridge between the city’s Woodlawn neighborhood and Rotterdam, he said.

“We are developing a lot of bike plans,” Wallin said. “All of our federal aid projects as we’re going forward are bike-centric."

As part of the funding contribution, city employees would be permitted to use the bikes for free, CDTA said.

The program was initially funded by a federal grant through the state Department of Transportation, allowing for the bikes, racks and system setup.

Schenectady's portion requires roughly $90,000 of annual subsidies, according to CDTA.

The overall program costs roughly $1 million, with funding generated by corporate and municipal partnerships, member/ridership revenue, municipal partnerships and CDTA funds.

CDTA is planning several measures designed to boost ridership this season, including an agreement with Union College allowing students to ride for free, as well efforts to loop in Scotia and Niskayuna. 

"We have had conversations with a variety of partners and these two are in the early stages of development," said CDTA Director of Corporate Communications Jaime Watson. "We are looking at smart growth for the system and the region. We are excited by these opportunities and look forward to getting more communities online with CDPHP Cycle! when appropriate."

The three-year funding motion passed out of City Development & Planning Committee and heads to the City Council for a full vote on Monday.

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