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UH Bikes rolls out 250 bikes in Cleveland for official bike sharing launch

CLEVELAND, Ohio – Two months after the first bikes rolled into the city, Cleveland's bike share program officially is launching.

UH Bikes – a bike share system in Cleveland and in Cuyahoga County – starting Wednesday, Sept. 21 will have 250 red bikes available to rent from 30 stations.

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To celebrate, UH Bikes will have a celebratory community ride at 1 p.m. Wednesday from Public Square to Cleveland Public Auditorium, where the 2016 Sustainable Cleveland Summit will be held that day.

"I hope we're getting to a point where people consider us a transit system because we are," said Alex Baca, general manager of UH Bikes. "I have been heartened to see how excited about bike share people are."

UH Bikes had a prelaunch July 15, at which time 100 green bikes – on loan from a bike share program in Phoenix, Ariz. – were placed at 10 hubs around the city.

"It was important to get it going by the RNC," Baca said.

But now, the green bikes have been returned and Cleveland's permanent red bikes are in place. And UH Bikes' theoretical training wheels have been removed.

So far, each bike is getting 0.83 rides per day. The goal, Baca said, is one ride per day per bike.

Most of the UH Bikes stations are in downtown and in University Circle, but there also are a few virtual stations on the west side at places like Nano Brew and Platform Beer Co. Users can search for bikes in the area on the UH Bikes website or from within the Social Bicycles app, which is available in the App store and in Google Play.

Baca hopes that through the bike share program Cleveland will become a more multi-modal community.

"Cleveland should unquestionably be a cycling city," Baca said. "Cleveland has this setup to be a people-friendly city."

Yet, while bike share can help change how people get around cities, it can't do so in a vacuum, Baca said. Rather, bike share – to reach its full potential – should work as a first- and last-mile option to public transit.

"Biking is healthy, active and highly social – in short, a great way to help create more livable and connected communities, both for residents and visitors," said Sarah O'Keeffe, sustainability manager at University Hospitals, the program's title sponsor.

UH Bikes is run by CycleHop-SoBi, a Santa Monica, Calif.-based bike share company.

Renting a bike

To rent a bike, users must first register with UH Bikes – either in the app or on the website.  They will be given a user number and be prompted to set a four-digit pin code.

They can reserve a bike on the app or the website or can rent directly on the bike by entering the user number and pin code.

Users have the option to pay as they go or to prepay for service – either in a one-time payment or through a monthly plan. The cost is $3.50 for a 30-minute rental; $21 for four hours of one-day rental time; $15 for an hour of daily riding time for a month; or $20 for 90 minutes of daily riding time for a month. Overtime fees are 12 cents per minute.

Users then unlock the bike and ride.

Users who return a rental to a bike rack in the system area that is not a UH Bikes hub are charged $2. Users who leave bikes outside of the service area are charged $20. Users who return an out-of-hub bike to a bike share hub receive a $1 credit.