First Bike-Sharing Program in CT Set To Roll In New Haven

First Bike-Sharing Program in CT Set To Roll In New Haven

This time the prop wasn’t a map or a color schematic, but an impressive looking bicycle that was wheeled in for the City Plan Commission to check out.

By mid-December, the public will be able to get around downtown by renting one of them from nine bike-share stations that were approved by the commission Thursday.

It was the culmination of almost two years of planning to bring the bike sharing concept to New Haven and by the spring, there will be 30 stations around the city, including four at city schools and several at the parks, for a total of 300 bicycles.

The mechanism that allows a user to rent one is contained within the bike itself, rather than at the bicycle docking station, which has been the traditional model, said Matt Finelli of P3 Global Management.

“Our bikes are fully self-sufficient, charging through an internal dynamo that powers sensors and GPS, and also the rear and front lighting mechanism and also the locking mechanism. Our security is two ways: the Blue Tooth lock will lock into the wheel well and the chain lock will secure to our docking mechanism,” Finelli said.

Finelli said New Haven Smart Mobility LLC is a wholly owned subsidiary of P3 Global Management, which was awarded a contract this year to plan, implement and operate the bike share program.

Michael Pinto, city deputy director of transportation, traffic and parking, said you unlock the bike with a cell phone app or a membership card for those who do not have cell phones. He said the program is essentially a short-term bike rental option.

People can opt to have single rides or they sign up for three-month or annual memberships.

Marcus Pottock of Godfrey Hoffman, who provided the technical drawings for the new stations, listed where the nine stations would be located.

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They include: Broadway and Elm Street with room for 7 bikes; Grove and Church streets with 8 racks; Audubon and Orange with 6 bikes; Chapel and Howe streets; York and Chapel streets in front of the Yale Repertory Theater; City Hall at 165 Church St.; Elm Street past Orange Street in a parking lot owned by the city; College Street in front of Alexion at 100 College St. at South Frontage Road; Church and George streets next to Gateway Community College.

Each station will have five to nine bicycles. Instructions on accessing the bikes will be on signs at the docking stations, where there will also be ads to help support it.

Pinto said, based on other bike share programs, the average ride is less than 6 minutes and to be functional and profitable, the stations have to be close together. He said the minimum rental is for 45 minutes.

Pinto said they will be more spread out into neighborhoods and at such places as near the Farmington Canal when fully implemented in the spring. The remaining 21 stations will stretch east into Fair Haven, north into East Rock and Newhallville and south into the Hill.

Carolyn Lusch of New Haven Smart Mobility said most of the trips are for short distances, such as going to the grocery store or the library. They have to be returned to a station. If someone leaves a bicycle that is not part of the program, there will be a charge and ultimately they will be confiscated.

This rollout was chosen for people downtown during the Christmas shopping season, Pino said. They will be highly visible, he said. “It primarily is a last mile system,” Pinto said.

He said someone working at City Hall could rent one to shop at Broadway faster than he or she could walk on a lunch hour. They would drop the bike at Broadway and get another bike to get back to 165 Church St.