Pittsburgh's Healthy Ride rolls out new e-bikes and rebrands as 'POGOH'
A refresh of Pittsburgh’s bike-share system kicked off on Wednesday, with a new brand and the promise of new ways of getting around.
Healthy Ride will now be rebranded as POGOH, said David White, who leads the system’s nonprofit owner, Bike Share Pittsburgh.
“We really want to bring some joy into moving around our city,” White said. “Hopping around from place to place is really exciting,” and the “H” at the end is a nod to Pittsburgh’s own final consonant (summarily eliminated by the federal government in 1891 but returned 20 years later due to continued resistance).
Healthy Ride started to remove stations late in 2021 in anticipation of the new fleet and new docking stations. Manufactured in Montreal, Canada, the new bikes are lighter and more nimble with smaller tires; roughly half are electric bikes.
“If we are serious … about a future where we begin to use fewer fossil fuels, we need to electrify our transportation systems,” White said.
The new e-bikes will be “pedal-assist,” which means the motor kicks in once a rider begins to pedal. Twenty of the new docking stations will be connected to power so that bikes can charge in place, which will reduce the number of times staff have to drive around the city to swap out batteries. But electrification alone is not going to address the climate crisis, White said.
“We have to change the modes that we use to move around,” he said. “We need more walking and biking and public transit.”
To that end, POGOH will now lower the riding age from 16 to 14, and offer expanded membership and payment options: Users who don’t have a debit or credit card but do have a smartphone can reserve a bike through Cash App. A new $120 annual pass provides unlimited rides, while a $20 Flex Pass is good for five hours of riding. Pay-as-you-go pricing is still available at $3.50 per 30 minutes for regular bikes and $5 per 30 minutes for e-bikes.
But White is most excited about a new mobility justice pass: For $10 a year, people who receive government assistance can get unlimited rides, whether on regular or e-bikes.
“Long-distance commuting, and expensive options to get to and from work, are really high barriers for a lot of people in our city,” he said. “It’s important to us to provide an option for people who need it the most.”
People will be able to use their Healthy Ride accounts until about mid-April when the new POGOH stations and bikes are installed. Then all users will have to create a new POGOH registration. By the end of 2022, the organization expects to have 750 new bikes spread across 65 stations.
There will be 38 stations in the first wave, and 27 in the second, as manufacturing and shipping delays continue to affect the process. The locations of the rollout, as well as other details of the system makeover, were informed by a community coalition of riders, community development corporations, and city leaders, all intent on creating “equitable bike share,” White said.
The community coalition has since been made a standing committee to the board of Bike Share Pittsburgh.