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Downtown Partnership to give $10,000 for Baltimore Bike Share passes for low-income riders

The Downtown Partnership will give $10,000 to subsidize monthly Baltimore Bike Share passes for low-income city residents, reducing the cost of unlimited one-hour trips to $3 a month, the nonprofit announced Wednesday.

The Downtown Partnership Access Pass is to be made available in the spring to 200 city residents. To sign up, recipients must be enrolled in the Maryland Food Supplemental Program.

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Passes may be renewed each month and canceled any time. Free helmets will also be provided.

"Bike Share better connects our city and we want to do everything we can to promote its use, especially if it means removing a financial barrier," said Kirby Fowler, president of the Downtown Partnership. "I encourage other businesses to do the same so that Bike Share is affordable and accessible to all who would like to use it."

The $2.36 million Baltimore Bike Share program employs homeless veterans through contractor Corps Logistics to repair and maintain bicycles.

It launched in October with 185 bicycles at 21 stations, mostly around the downtown area. An expansion to 50 stations and 456 bikes is planned in the spring.

Riders took more than 5,800 trips and rode 8,000 miles in the first month.

The program offers both regular bikes and the largest electric-assisted, or "Pedelec," bicycle fleet in North America.

The city is seeking additional sponsorships.

"Bike Share is already an important part of Baltimore's transit infrastructure," Mayor Catherine E. Pugh said. "And thanks to the generosity of Downtown Partnership and the new Access Pass, it will be more affordable and easily available,"

If other businesses and organizations support the program, Pugh said, it could expand further and offer how-to-ride classes.

Baltimore Sun reporter Yvonne Wenger contributed to this article.

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