Record editorial: Problems that plagued Summit Bike Share must be fixed by next year
Wvhen the Summit County Bike Share launched in the summer of 2017, city and county leaders hailed the program as a fun recreation option for both visitors and Parkites and, more importantly, an alluring mode of alternative transportation that would cut down on traffic.
Despite scattered problems like complaints of underage riders misusing the e-bikes, the program seemed to live up to that billing during its first two years.
This year, though, the bike share fell flat.
According to county officials, it’s largely because a subcontractor responsible for maintaining the fleet did, too. The firm, apparently, did not have enough parts on hand or mechanics on staff to keep the bulk of the program’s bikes operational, especially early in the season. As a result, ridership fell precipitously — in fact, there have been only a few more riders this year than there were during last June alone.
That’s a shame because of how well the bike share has been received and how successful it was in its first two years. Plenty of folks have enjoyed ditching their cars and spending warm afternoons pedaling their way to and from destinations all over the Park City area. Even factoring in this year’s decline, riders have used the bike share for nearly 85,000 trips covering a total of more than 160,000 miles, according to statistics available on the program’s website.
As approximately $1.5 million in taxpayer money has been used to get the Summit Bike Share off the ground — about half of that coming via a federal grant and the rest split between Summit County and Park City — the problems that plagued the program this year are even more frustrating. (Bewegen, a Canadian company that runs the bike share on behalf of Summit County, uses revenue from fares to pay for ongoing operations and maintenance costs.) By the time the bike share is rolled out next spring, the issues need to be fixed so the community can resume enjoying the benefits it brings when it’s working.
Bewegen says it has already begun remedying the situation by taking tighter control of the day-to-day operations and overhauling the bike maintenance system. The company says the Summit Bike Share is its most popular program in the U.S., so it seemingly has every incentive to make good on its promises.
Hopefully, it does.
Thousands of people have enjoyed cruising around town on the e-bikes, and thousands more will be glad to do so in the future, if only the system can rise to the challenge of meeting the demand.
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Our view: Most businesses prepare for a slow spring each year, but a better-than-average stretch would be a welcome boost since it’s unlikely many of them experienced what they’d consider a banner ski season.