Summit Bike Share’s ridership ‘through the roof’ so far in its second year | ParkRecord.com

Summit Bike Share’s ridership ‘through the roof’ so far in its second year

Several e-bikes remained in their charging stations at the Summit Bike Share’s Prospector location on the morning of Friday, July 27, 2018.

In its second year of operation, the Summit Bike Share service is on track to far exceed 2017 ridership numbers if current trends hold, according to officials.

Since this year's operations began on April 28, more than 4,500 trips have been made using the system for 19,000 miles of transit, the equivalent of three and a half round trips from Los Angeles to New York, according to Park City Senior Transportation Planner Julia Collins.

While a direct comparison to ridership last year is difficult because the electric bicycle sharing service serving Park City and the Snyderville Basin didn't debut in 2017 until July, the numbers are indicative of an overall increase in usage this year, Collins said.

"Our ridership numbers are through the roof," Collins said.

The bike share service, provided by Bewegen, a Canadian firm that also has systems in large cities like Birmingham, Alabama, and Baltimore, was the nation's first to utilize a fleet composed of e-bikes. E-bikes use an electric motor to assist riders with tackling Summit County's hills. Riders can obtain the bikes at nine stations around the county's west side and pay for their rides via kiosks or a smartphone app.

With an abbreviated 2017 season under the program's belt, Collins said a number of modifications to the way the system operates have proven effective in reducing damage to the bikes and improving availability.

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To help reduce the instances of empty stations, 40 additional bikes brought the 2018 fleet up to about 128 bikes total. More maintenance staff is on hand to fix mechanical problems, and the system now utilizes a geofencing system that turns off the pedal assist when leaving the Summit Bike Share's service area and in specific locations like trails and bike parks where the heavy cruisers are not meant to go.

When there's concrete evidence of abuse, like damage to a bike, the bike-share's operations manager can track who last used the vehicle and what route they took before taking action.

"If (the operations manager) can determine that the last user is responsible for those damages, they will bill them and block their account for future use," Collins said.

Still, some challenges inherent to bike shares aren't surmountable by allocating more resources or using GPSes, Collins noted. Some residents have complained of encounters with riders who are under the bike share's age requirement of 18, unfamiliar with bike etiquette and traffic laws, or all three. The e-bikes are heavy and can reach high speeds, a potential source of consternation for pedestrians.

While officials have met with the Park City Police Department to go over the system's rules, enforcement can't be everywhere at once.

"We're putting more of the onus on the user and on the parents," Collins said. "The other side of it is that we also have a lot of education."

Much of the information is out in the open. The Summit Bike Share website displays a map of the service area on its front page, as well as a reminder that riders need to be at least 18 — a reminder that shows up in many different contexts, like at payment kiosks, on the smartphone app and as a confirmation when purchasing a ride. A guide to bicycle traffic laws also exists on the site.

Collins said Park City aims to be proactive by hosting bike safety events, providing information about the service's rules whenever possible and even employing staff to act as in-person customer service agents at select stations.