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Council giving Red Bike $500k to expand into Bond Hill, Roselawn, Evanston and Avondale

Tana Weingartner

Cincinnati's non-profit bike share program is headed for an expansion into four new neighborhoods. Council approved a plan Wednesday to spend $500,000 to get the expansion started.

Red Bike Executive Director Jason Barron says they want to build docking stations in Bond Hill, Roselawn, Evanston and Avondale.

"It would take about $560,000 upfront, and about $60,000 a year [after], of which we'd want a multi-year commitment," Barron says. "So I think this chunk is a big part of that; and then we'd have to work collaboratively with the city to come up with a plan to ensure we could provide a high level of service, make sure these bikes are maintained, make sure these bikes are well looked after."

Red Bike stations are primarily clustered Downtown and in Clifton, Over-the-Rhine, Covington and Newport. Vice Mayor Christopher Smitherman introduced the expansion plan for these primarily African American neighborhoods.

"I look forward to expanding to each of these neighborhoods and connecting the rest of the neighborhoods to each other," Smitherman said. "I think that's going to be very positive."

Red Bike users can get a $10 day pass, or discounted long-term passes monthly or yearly. An equity-focused "Go Pass" is available for low-income residents - it offers unlimited two-hour bike rides for $5 a month.

Barron says user fees are up to 45% of the program's revenue, but they expect to make less in the new neighborhoods because they have less density and tourism.

"We think we're going have a ton of ridership in these neighborhoods, but we don't expect them to be revenue positive," Barron says. "So if we're going to provide the service, we need to have some sort of a funding source for that."

Barron says the city's initial $500,000 will allow them to order new bikes, but ongoing issues with the supply chain mean those bikes may not be ready for at least a year.

In the meantime, Barron says they'll work with the four communities on the best placement for the bike share stations.

Updated: December 15, 2021 at 5:09 PM EST
This post was originally published December 13 and has been updated.
Local Government Reporter with a particular focus on Cincinnati; experienced journalist in public radio and television throughout the Midwest. Enthusiastic about: civic engagement, public libraries, and urban planning.