After nearly two years of development and delays, Pittsburgh’s bike share program is finally ready to roll.
Through “Healthy Ride,” 500 bikes will be placed at 50 stations around the city, including downtown, the North Side, South Side, Oakland and the East End.
“Pittsburgh is officially moving away from a history where we prioritized the movement of cars in, and mostly out of, our city, and we’re moving toward a future where we maximize the ability to move people within our city,” said David White, executive director of Pittsburgh Bike Share, the nonprofit that will manage the program.
Residents and visitors will be able to register for the program for free on the Healthy Ride website, at any of the bike racks or through a mobile app. For every half hour of rental time, riders will be charged $2. Monthly subscribers will pay $12 for unlimited half hour rides or $20 for unlimited one hour rides.
Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto said the greater availability of bicycles will allow the city’s bike culture to become a little more self-sustaining.
“Government is catching up to what the culture had already been,” Peduto said. “We have an eight-year plan to build out the infrastructure in the city of Pittsburgh … by building it out more, more people will start to use it. So, it sort of will build off of itself.”
The bikes, which will be available at the end of May, are outfitted with fenders, a front basket and a built-in cable lock.
“They have seven speeds, which is also the first system in the U.S. to have that seven-speed capability,” White said. “We know that Pittsburgh hills demanded that, and we’re excited to be one of the first to move in that direction.”
The bicycles also include front and rear lights, powered by pedaling.
The program is being funded by a $1.6 million federal highway grant and about $1.2 million in foundation contributions. Highmark and Allegheny Health Network partnered with the city and are the initiative’s title sponsors, but Highmark hasn’t released how much they plan on contributing to the project.
Highmark Executive Vice President Dan Onorato said the partnership was “good business sense.”
“This is about healthy living and getting people moving, and the healthier we make the population, it is a lot less expensive to have somebody stay healthy early on than to treat them with illness because of obesity or inactivity that’s in the community,” Onorato said.
With the addition of Healthy Ride, Pittsburgh joins the ranks of cities such as Boston, Chicago and New York, all of which have their own bike share programs.