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Bike sharing program gets OK from Manchester aldermen

New Hampshire Union Leader

May 02. 2017 11:57PM
Manchester Bike Share is hoping to partner with Zagster to start with a minimum of six stations — each home to five bikes — in the Millyard and downtown. (COURTESY)

MANCHESTER — City aldermen have approved a proposal to bring a two-year bike share pilot program to Manchester in time for summer.

The program was approved unanimously.

Manchester resident Carol Gayman of Ward 1 and members of the city’s Bike Share Committee worked with local public works officials and Bike Manchester to develop the Manchester Bike Share Program, which involves placing “stations” around the city where bicycles are available for the public to rent.

At each station, a 22-foot-long, 18-inch-wide bike rack will be installed. Under the program, a user can pick up a bike from one station, keep it as long as needed, and return it to a different station.

According to the proposal, a company called Zagster — which operates 150 bike-sharing programs in more than 30 states — would provide maintenance and reallocate bikes between stations as needed.

During prior discussions on the program, Gayman told aldermen the cost to rent a bicycle in Manchester will be $2 per hour, with options for monthly and yearly memberships of $15 and $30 respectively.

The program will kick off with six rental locations to start with the YMCA on Mechanic Street; The Puritan Backroom restaurant on Hooksett Road; the McLane Middleton law firm at 900 Elm St., and City Hall Plaza; the Colonial Village apartments at 440 River Road for Southern New Hampshire University (SNHU) students, and also outside SNHU’s Online campus on South Commercial Street near the Millyard; and under the Notre Dame Bridge.

Any additional bike locations must be approved by the Department of Public Works. In paperwork filed with the city, Gayman writes she has worked with city officials to identify 15 potential sites for bike-sharing stations, including the New Hampshire Institute of Art, a location yet to be determined near Catholic Medical Center, and Victory Park.

The Bike Share Committee has secured sponsorship for the six bike racks at a cost of $9,000 per sponsor. SNHU will sponsor three bike racks, and McLane Middleton, the YMCA and Puritan Backroom will sponsor the other three. In return, each sponsor will have their logo posted on the rental bikes.

The bikes will be offered for rental until early December — weather permitting — then placed into storage until spring. City Public Works officials have agreed to provide the storage space for the bikes.

Aldermen had tabled the proposal last month to allow the city solicitor’s office time to review the proposed contract with Zagster to determine if the city was covered under the company’s insurance.

Aldermen were told prior to Tuesday night’s vote that Zagster carries $4 million in insurance liability, which would include the city and Bike Manchester as insured parties. The bike rental program should be ready to roll by late May or early June.

Local and County Government Manchester

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