A Newport Beach foundation will become the first to offer “European style” bike-sharing in Orange County, allowing users to grab a bike at one bike station and leave it at another.
The program, meant to cut greenhouse gases that contribute to global warming, begins with plenty of fanfare this weekend, with events scheduled in Newport Friday through Monday.
“We’re trying to work with different communities to reduce the carbon footprint and traffic issues,” said Alan Brandenburger, founder of the non-profit Brandenburger Foundation. “It’s a green community, kind of forward thinking on the environment, and that is what it’s all about.”
The foundation is partnering with the Bixi Bike System, which has set up a similar system in Montreal, Canada (below). ”There are no bike-sharing programs of this caliber in the U.S.” he said.
The foundation hopes eventually to set up many bike stations around Newport, with the mobile kiosks holding seven bikes each. One demonstration station will be setup this weekend.
Users must run a credit card through a card reader to pay fees, although 30 minute rides are free. After that, fees range from $1.50 for the second 30 minutes to $6 for the fourth 30-minute period and each 30-minute period beyond that. The price increases to encourage people to use the bikes only for short increments of time.
They can also purchase 24-hour access for $5, a 30-day subscription for $28, and a 1-year subscription for $120. Memberships will be available on the program’s web site.
The bikes are automatically locked when the front wheel is placed in a dock at the bike station. Punching in a code triggers a green light and releases the bike.
The foundation will hold events to introduce the bikes at Newport Beach City Hall on Friday, Balboa Pier on Saturday, Newport Pier on Sunday and the Orange County Transportation Authority bus depot at Fashion Island on Monday morning, then at Newport Elementary School in the afternoon.
“It can really change a city, the way its transportation flows,” Brandenburger said. “It’s amazing.”
(Photos courtesy of Alan Brandenburger.)