Pittsburgh needs more public transportation options to fill the needs of both its residents and those who commute into the city for work and school. The car-centric mentality that pervades the region is neither sustainable, nor accessible for many people who commute. At Pittsburgh Bike Share (henceforth referred to by it’s system name, Healthy Ride), we believe that short bike trips can help people cut down commute times, avoid waiting for public transportation, and ultimately live a healthier and happier life. Healthy Ride launched in May 2015 and has since grown both it’s bike fleet and system footprint. However, with the traditional pedal-powered bike share model, the system only reaches a small segment of the city, struggling to connect to new demographics and areas with hilly terrains. Even your most fit city cyclist avoids taking Healthy Ride bikes up Pittsburgh hills, meaning that much of this city remains inaccessible by bike share.
Healthy Ride’s contribution includes working with the Port Authority of Allegheny County and the City of Pittsburgh to install 2 remote charging stations for electric-assist shared bicycles at bus and light rail terminals along high-traffic public transit corridors, adding a limited number of e-assist bicycles to the existing fleet of 700 pedal-powered bicycles, and performing community outreach to engage residents before installation and educate new riders after the charging stations and e-bike fleet have launched. Healthy Ride is dedicated to building the best possible bike share system for the City of Pittsburgh, and bike share has proven to be an important part of the multimodal transit network. However, the Healthy Ride system must grow and develop in order to fulfill the needs of Pittsburgh residents and visitors; e-bikes are an essential part of the multimodal transit future. Funding to establish the infrastructure necessary to build this program will not only establish a sustainable e-bike system in Pittsburgh, but also help pilot the concept of remote charging stations and establish local best practices and identify opportunities for future growth.
Healthy Ride was built on innovative partnerships and as an organization, Healthy Ride continues to utilize partnerships in order to fulfill public transportation needs in Pittsburgh and build a more sustainable, multimodal transportation network for the future of our city. This proposal relies on not only developing the Healthy Ride bike share system to include e-bikes and remote charging technology, but also continues the important work of collaborating with the City of Pittsburgh and The Port Authority of Allegheny County to create multimodal connections along high-traffic, public transit corridors. Through these partnerships, Healthy Ride has identified 5 high-traffic corridors that will be considered as future locations for remote charging stations: the Downtown Light Rail Terminal at Liberty Avenue & Stanwix Street, the East Busway at Negley Avenue, the East Busway Terminal in Wilkinsburg, the Hazelwood Green development, and the South Hills Light Rail. Pittsburgh Bike Share will work with both the City of Pittsburgh’s Department of Mobility and Infrastructure (DOMI) and The Port Authority of Allegheny County to identify the final locations for a pilot of 2 remote charging stations that integrate with these public transit hubs.
Beyond the charging stations, Healthy Ride will use remaining funds to purchase a small fleet of e-assist bicycles from it’s hardware provider, nextbike. By introducing a small number of bicycles during the Pilot phase, our rebalancing team will learn best practices for e-assist bicycle maintenance and charging. Furthermore, this small fleet will help Healthy Ride identify operational and customer needs on a small scale to prepare for a future e-bike expansion.
Finally, public outreach is at the core of Healthy Ride’s continuous growth. We believe that community input is essential to building the best public transportation network for Pittsburgh. Not only will Healthy Ride seek input from residents during the planning phase to create the greatest impact for current and future bike share riders, but will also continue outreach efforts beyond the launch of the e-assist fleet. Healthy Ride will host 6 launch events across the service area with the goal of providing opportunities for all of the neighborhoods connected to Healthy Ride to experience the new bikes. The focus of these events will be to introduce e-assist bicycles to new communities who may be intimidated about using bicycles as transportation. Each of these events will feature test rides on the e-assist bicycles, safe city cycling education, and a short group bike ride to introduce new riders to biking on public streets.