Summit County implements new features for electric bike share program
When Summit County launched the nation’s first all-electric bike-share program last year, users encountered some bumps along the way.
The community, while overwhelmingly supportive of the program, dealt with issues such as problems with the mobile phone application and availability of bikes. There are nine bike stations with more than 80 bikes in service throughout the Snyderville Basin and Park City. Bewegen Technologies, Inc., a Canadian bike-share operator, and Corps Logistics, a New Jersey-based company, monitor the system through a contract with the county.
Summit County Manager Tom Fisher said the immediate success of the program overwhelmed the operator, creating many of the issues users experienced.
“They had never worked in a mountain town before and they were adjusting to that,” he said. “To me, it’s an incremental process and I’m sure we will discover different problems this year. But, we will continue to learn from them and attempt to correct those problems.”
The electric bikes were made available for use this year on April 28. Users are still able to purchase a $2 one-time pass through a phone application or sign up for weekly, monthly and annual passes at the kiosk stations. Single-ride passes include 45 minutes of riding before an additional $2 is charged on the user’s credit card for every 30 minutes beyond that. Riders must be 18 years old. The $5 fee to purchase a one-time pass has been eliminated.
An additional 42 bikes were added to the fleet this season to help handle demand, according to Caroline Rodriguez, Summit County’s regional transportation director. A stricter system will also be in place to reduce users from riding the bikes outside of the authorized zones.
“If they travel outside of a service area, the pedal assist will turn off,” she said. “We think the service area covers all of our most important neighborhoods, including up to Canyons Village. We have excluded all of the mountain bike trails, bike park and skate park, and we hope this will alleviate some of the damage we saw on the bikes when people were trying to take them onto single track and onto the skate park. It’s going to be a lot more effective this year.”
Rodriguez said the operator also moved its warehouse from Heber to Rasmussen Road. She said four full-time Navy veterans will be employed to service the bikes. They will be joined by a project manager and brand ambassador to be on hand to answer users’ questions.
Fisher said he was most encouraged by the data from the first season. He said another year’s worth of data will better inform officials of where people are traveling and why they are using the bikes in the first place.
“It will help determine how much is tourism- or novelty-based,” he said. “This year we will really see some results from that and whether people are using it as an alternative mode of transportation.”
Summit County is hoping to add more station kiosks later this summer. The stations will likely be located at the Snyderville Basin Recreation Fieldhouse, in the Silver Springs and Trailside neighborhoods, City Park in Park City, and, eventually, at the Jeremy Ranch park-and-ride lot and another park-and-ride lot expected to be built at Ecker Hill.
The stations and additional bikes will be funded through a grant the county was awarded under the Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) program. The TIGER program supports projects that encourage residents to abandon their cars, such as bike-sharing programs, which allow people to rent traditional and electric bicycles and return them to stations within a connected system.
Rodriguez said she will have more information about when the monies will be available from the TIGER program later this month. In 2016, the Utah Transit Authority announced it would be awarding $20 million to six counties along the Wasatch Back and Front, including Summit County, to improve sidewalk, trail, bike and transit access throughout more than 20 cities in UTA’s system. Summit County is expects to receive $500,000 from the grant.
A former Summit County victim advocate who was facing a felony count of misusing public money pleaded guilty Tuesday to a lesser charge in a deal with prosecutors.