Summit County bike share program delayed


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Jun 28, 2023

Summit County bike share program delayed

E-bikes from the Summit County bike share program are not available right now.

E-bikes from the Summit County bike share program are not available right now.

Last year, the Summit Bike Share program was ready to go at the end of April. But so far this year, the bike racks are empty due to a problem with the program's software provider.

Summit County was the first municipality in the United States to launch an electric bicycle-sharing program. It started in June 2017 for residents to use for errands, commuting or recreation. Users could download an app on their smart phone to rent the bikes using a credit card for payment. All of the bikes are electric-assist, making it easier to climb hills.

The program proved to be popular, despite some early hiccups. It expanded to 20 stations and 190 bikes throughout Summit County and Park City. Last year, bikes were available at the end of April and provided more than 21,000 rides that covered more than 81,500 miles.

Summit County used the Canadian company Bewegen Technologies to run the program. The contract expired in February. The county council decided two months later to take some of the operations in-house, hiring two new mechanics and a program manager.

Transportation Planning Director Carl Miller said the new plan was more cost-effective and efficient for the county.

"Once you get to a certain number of bicycles, there's kind of an economies of scale of bring it in house," he said. "Secondly, we have more autonomy on the operations team, the bicycle mechanics, the communications, the marketing and a lot of other things that we can just do a little bit better."

The county planned to have Bewegen continue the software side of the program, which includes the app, payment processing and locating the bikes.

But a Summit County spokesperson said on May 18th, weeks before this year's scheduled relaunch of the bike share program, they learned Bewegen was no longer providing those services.

So, the county had to search for another provider. Four companies are currently under consideration.

Transportation Planning Director Carl Miller said he hopes to finalize a contract this week.

It's not just Summit County that has to pivot.

In April, the mayor of Northampton, Mass., told western Massachusetts media Bewegen plans to file for bankruptcy in Canada. The company ran a bikeshare service for eight cities in Massachusetts' Pioneer Valley called ValleyBike, which is now looking for a new vendor.

Raleigh, N.C., also announced Bewegen intended to file for bankruptcy April 14, and the city suspended its bikeshare service for at least a month.

On April 19, Bewegen disputed it had officially filed for bankruptcy. "This is fake news," the company said in a tweet.

Several articles have been written on the bankruptcy of Bewegen Technologies. This is fake news, Bewegen has not filled for bankruptcy. We continue to work with our clients.

A month later, Summit County received notice Bewegen would cease operations "for all its bike share systems."

Miller said he hopes it's an opportunity to bring a more local feel to Summit Bike Share.

"Instead of the marketing being done from hundreds of miles away, we know when the local events are, and we can communicate with people about potentially free bike days or discounts on bikes or working with different partners on sponsorships," he said.

Miller said if a contract is finalized this week, the county is on track to relaunch Summit Bike Share in early July.