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June 21, 2019

CRCOG seeks regional bikeshare vendor

ridesharing greater hartford HBJ Photo | Joe Cooper LimeBike, a Silicon Valley-based bikeshare vendor, ended its pilot program in Hartford in 2018.

After LimeBike’s recent departure from Hartford, the Capitol Region Council of Governments is exploring what might come next for bikesharing in both the city and the surrounding region.

CRCOG on Friday issued a request for proposals seeking a vendor capable of providing “a large-scale regional private bikeshare system that is provided at no cost to the municipalities.”

The RFP calls for “seamless service across the borders” of 19 communities interested in participating, which span as far south as Berlin and as far north as Granby.

Users would pay to rent the bikes.

Though the RFP’s timing closely follows LimeBike’s Hartford departure, CRCOG’s bikeshare planning efforts go back much further.

The agency issued a market analysis in 2014 that determined that a six-year buildout of a regional bikesharing system would cost communities $636,000, which was seen as too high, so the planning was put on hold.

Conditions are different now, CRCOG said.

“Much has changed since 2014, perhaps most notably smart bike technology such as it exists today has made a regional network more feasible,” the RFP reads.

Older dock-based systems have been replaced by dockless systems, where bicycles can be picked up and left anywhere. Mobile apps have also made the payment and rental process for seamless for users.

The RFP also says any vendor ultimately selected must ensure their bicycles will be equally available to low-income neighborhoods, and encourages lower fees for those residents, a bilingual mobile app, as well as providing a way to rent the bikes without having to use a smartphone.

Municipalities expected to sign a memorandum of understanding with CRCOG related to the program include Berlin, Bloomfield, Canton, East Hartford, East Windsor, Farmington, Glastonbury, Granby, Hartford, Manchester, New Britain, Newington, Rocky Hill, Southington, Vernon, West Hartford, Wethersfield, Windsor and Windsor Locks.

Those communities have agreed to not charge bicycle permitting fees to a vendor that proposes a no-cost system, according to CRCOG. Towns might also waive other fees, such as those for installing bike racks on public property.

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