Beginning this fall, 500 bicycles will be available for short-term rent around Baltimore, following the city's approval Wednesday of a $2.36 million Charm City Bikeshare contract with Canadian company Bewegen Technologies.
The bicycles, 200 of them featuring electric-assisted pedaling, will be placed at 50 stations around Baltimore in an area spanning from the Inner Harbor west to Union Square, north to Charles North, east to Canton and south to Locust Point.
It hasn't been determined how much the bikes will cost to rent, but it is expected to be about $4 per hour, with the first half-hour free, similar to programs in other programs, officials said.
D.C.'s Capital Bikeshare offers more than 3,000 bikes at 350 stations across the Washington area. It charges a fee for membership ranging from $8 per day to $85 per year, plus the rental rate.
Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, who controls the city's spending board that approved the contract, said Baltimore will join more than 700 cities in 50 countries in launching a bike-share program.
The number of pedal-assisted bicycles in the city's program will be the largest of any program in North and South America, Bewegen CEO Alain Ayotte said.
"For Baltimore, expanding our network of sustainable transportation options is critical both to retaining our residents and attracting new families into our city," Rawlings-Blake said. "Being a bikeable city means being a better, more livable city, and it also means making Baltimore greener, cleaner and healthier."
Bewegen has selected Corps Logistics to manage the contract, handling installation, operations, maintenance, support and customer service. The New Jersey-based company will move its headquarters to Baltimore this summer before the launch, said Jim Duffney, Corps Logistics founder and CEO.
The company plans to hire about 80 local employees, Duffney said, including veterans at the Baltimore Station, a transitional residential treatment program for men recovering from homelessness and drug addiction.
Each bicycle will be equipped with GPS technology to track its whereabouts, officials said. The city expects to reach out to neighborhood residents to determine where the stations would be the most effective.
Opting to ride a bike instead of driving a car not only saves money but contributes to better cardiovascular health and fitness, Rawlings-Blake said.
"We may see a positive ripple effect in the overall health of our city with the implementation of the bike-share program," the mayor said. "That is a great bonus."