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Pittsburgh’s bikeshare system, POGOH, grows by leaps and bounds

Katie Blackley
90.5 WESA

Pittsburgh’s bike share system, POGOH, will add 210 bikes at 22 new stations by the end of June. Most of the money for the planned $1.2 million expansion comes from a federal program that aims to reduce traffic congestion and improve air quality. The City of Pittsburgh also contributed to the effort.

It’s critical to change how people get around the city, said David White, who leads the system’s nonprofit owner, Bike Share Pittsburgh.

“Even replacing a really small number of car trips with bike trips is an important strategy to tackle the climate change crisis that we’re facing,” he said. Transportation produces more emissions than any other sector of the national economy, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation.

The majority of POGOH’s bikes are electric, which White said for a hilly city such as Pittsburgh has been “a game-changer,” he said. “People love them, and more and different people can use them.”

POGOH partnered with Duquesne Light to ensure that e-bikes can charge right at the system’s stations, which is pretty rare in the U.S. Typically, bike share employees drive all over a city to collect dead bikes for daily charging.

The new bikes and stations planned for this year continues a relaunch begun last year, when the system formerly known as HealthyRide rolled out its new name and new bikes. The new equipment — larger stations, lighter bikes, the introduction of e-bikes — is meant to last longer and be a more “permanent fixture in our cityscape,” White said.

But a major objective of the overhaul was to build a more equitable system, he said.

“The bikes need to be in a place where you can get them, and they need to be priced in a way that you can use them.”

A quarter of POGOH stations will be located in neighborhoods that Bike Share Pittsburgh considers “mission critical,” to provide more transportation options, White said. The organization takes into account a number of different demographic indicators, from places that are home to more people of color, to those that have lower rates of car ownership or lower incomes. This year, stations will be added in Hazelwood, more North Side neighborhoods, and Stanton Heights, among others.

In addition, people who qualify for food assistance, utility assistance, and Medicare or Medicaid can purchase an annual membership for $10.

“This system has to work for everyone,” White said.