ValleyBike Share delays opening due to COVID-19

  • Steve Kelly, an employee of Corps Logistics checks and resets bikes in the Valley Bike program in Amherst. STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

Staff Writer
Published: 3/27/2020 12:43:36 PM
Modified: 3/27/2020 12:43:26 PM

ValleyBike Share, the popular community-based bike-sharing program that has transported over 125,000 area riders since debuting in 2018, has delayed its opening this year for at least a month due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Wayne Feiden, the program’s project director, said the safety both of riders and maintenance staff for the bike share program is a big concern. Though the bikes can be cleaned at the end of the day, and individual riders can wipe down a bike before they use it, there’s no guarantee everyone would do that, he noted,

“This seemed like the right step and the responsible one to take,” said Feiden, Northampton’s director of planning and sustainability. ValleyBike Share’s vendor, Bewegen, made the decision, he added, but it’s one he completely agrees with.

Feiden also noted that the most recent data from bike-sharing programs elsewhere, though incomplete, suggest ridership has plummeted in just the past week or so. In New York City, for example, usage has dropped dramatically after it had climbed substantially earlier in March.

“People were using the bikes because they saw it as a safer alternative than the subway or other public transit,” he said. “But now it appears more and more people are sheltering at home.”

ValleyBike operates in six area communities, including Amherst, Holyoke, Springfield, and Northampton — Feiden says he regularly rode one of the bikes last year to and from work — and has plans to expand the program this year to Chicopee and West Springfield. Nearly 127,000 riders, covering over 281,000 miles, have used the bikes since the program debuted in June 2018, according to program statistics.

Feiden said the reopening of the bike share program is now slated for early May, possibly to coincide with the proposed reopening of Massachusetts schools. But he added that the status of the COVID-19 outbreak at that point will be the determining factor in when the bikes are actually made available again.

Steve Pfarrer can be reached at spfarrer@gazettenet.com. 

 

 

 

 


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