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It’s official — ValleyBike Share opens

  • Dakota DesRochers of Leverett takes off on one of the 52 Bewegen electric assist bicycles on hand for the public to try out during the ValleyBike Share launch event held at the Smith College Indoor Track and Tennis Facility in Northampton on Thursday. The program will have 500 public bikes at 50 stations in five cities. GAZETTE STAFF/KEVIN GUTTING

  • Catherine Ratte, Principal Environment and Land Use Planner at the Pioneer Valley Planning Commission, speaks during the ValleyBike Share launch event held at the Smith College Indoor Track and Tennis Facility in Northampton on Thursday, June 28, 2018. —GAZETTE STAFF / KEVIN GUTTING

  • Amherst Select Board Chairman Douglas Slaughter speaks during the ValleyBike Share launch event held at the Smith College Indoor Track and Tennis Facility in Northampton on Thursday, June 28, 2018. —GAZETTE STAFF / KEVIN GUTTING

  • Northampton Mayor David Narkewicz welcomes about 160 people to the ValleyBike Share launch event held at the Smith College Indoor Track and Tennis Facility in Northampton on Thursday, June 28, 2018. —GAZETTE STAFF / KEVIN GUTTING

  • Pioneer Valley Planning Commission senior transportation planner Jeff McCollough of Hatfield and Pioneer Valley Transit Authority marketing and advertising director Brandy Pelletier of Munson look over several dozen electric assist bicycles during the ValleyBike Share launch event held at the Smith College Indoor Track and Tennis Facility in Northampton on Thursday. GAZETTE STAFF/KEVIN GUTTING

  • South Hadley Select Board Chairman Ira Brezinsky, left, Holyoke Mayor Alex Morse, Northampton Mayor David Narkewicz and Chris Boyle of Northampton prepare to lead a parade of electric assist bicycles at the conclusion of the ValleyBike Share launch event held at the Smith College Indoor Track and Tennis Facility in Northampton on Thursday, June 28, 2018. —GAZETTE STAFF / KEVIN GUTTING

  • Bewegen Technologies CEO Alain Ayotte, right, speaks during the ValleyBike Share launch event held at the Smith College Indoor Track and Tennis Facility in Northampton on Thursday, June 28, 2018. Northampton Mayor David Narkewicz, left, hosted the event. —GAZETTE STAFF / KEVIN GUTTING

  • Holyoke Mayor Alex Morse dons a helmet to take part in a bicycle parade to wrap up the ValleyBike Share launch event held at the Smith College Indoor Track and Tennis Facility in Northampton on Thursday, June 28, 2018. —GAZETTE STAFF / KEVIN GUTTING



For the Gazette
Friday, June 29, 2018

NORTHAMPTON — Some 500 public bikes will soon be zooming across cities and towns in the Valley now that a bike-sharing program years in the making is officially underway.

The ValleyBike Share Program, similar to bike sharing systems in large cities across the country, began Thursday with a special bike parade and remarks from community leaders and program organizers. The ceremony was originally planned to take place at Pulaski Park, but was switched to Smith College Indoor Track and Tennis due to poor weather conditions.

The program will add 500 public bikes, at 50 stations, across Northampton, Holyoke, South Hadley, Amherst, Springfield and the campus of the University of Massachusett Amherst.

“We think it will work really well in the Valley,” said Mayor David Narkewicz, who said he hopes the program expands to new communities.

Representatives from each community were present to give remarks, including Narkewicz, Holyoke Mayor Alex Morse and Steve Goodwin, deputy chancellor at UMass. Afterward, officials and some of the 150 people in attendance got to test out the new bikes by riding around the track in a bike parade.

The bike sharing program is being funded by a $1.3 million federal Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality grant. Valley residents will be able to sign up for a membership that allows them to take out any bike from any station across the five communities, and return the bike at any station.

According to the Pioneer Valley Planning Commission, a membership will cost around $70 to $100 annually. Residents also can pay to use the bikes without a membership.

Narkewicz addressed the audience first, saying that the city of Northampton is thrilled that the ValleyBike Program finally launched after “years of hard work.” Narkewicz said the program was the latest example of being Northampton “committed to sustainable transportation.”

Narkewicz spoke of the advantages of the bike sharing system, which he said would lower carbon emissions in the Valley and connect the areas communities.

The mayor thanked the ValleyBike sponsors, which included a number of local business and organizations such as the Pioneer Valley Planning Commission, the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame and MGM Springfield, which Narkewicz called the Valley’s “newest partner.”

Narkewicz gave a specific shout out to Corps Logistics, a company which hires and is owned by veterans, which specializes in creating and installing bike sharing equipment, including the bike stations and the bikes themselves. Corps Logistics made and implemented all the equipment in the ValleyBike system.

Morse echoed some of Narkewicz’s statements, saying there was “nothing but excitement” from residents when they found out that mystery construction projects on sidewalks were bike sharing stations. Morse also said the program could help the community in unexpected ways.

Holyoke is one of the poorest communities in the state, according to data provided by the U.S. Census Bureau, but Morse thinks that the bike sharing program makes the city more desirable and attractive.

“It’s investments like these that bring people back to the community,” said Morse.

Morse said this was a first step in making Holyoke more “bike friendly,” which also includes efforts by the city to create new bike trails and paths.

Narkewicz said that the program was designed so that families in low-income areas would have equal access to the bike sharing program, and that certain people may get their ValleyBike memberships subsidized, if they apply. 

Goodwin said the program would allow students and others to experience the Valley at a more intimate and personal level that a bike can provide.

After the speeches, Narkewicz led audience members in the bike parade around the track.

The bike sharing program has some Valley residents excited, even those who don’t own a bike.

Jean Herman from Northampton, said that he has never been an avid biker, but he walks the bike trails. Herman said that he is “ready to give it a try,” inspired by the ValleyBike system.

South Hadley resident Lucia Foley said that she hadn’t biked in “many years” but was thinking about giving it a try when she watched how much fun participants of the bike parade were having. Foley said she was at the event because she loved the “regional approach to transportation.”

“The more ways to get around efficiently, the better,” said Foley.