Health, News

Time to take a spin in Malden with new bike share programs

MALDEN — Call it the Invasion of the Green and Yellow Bikes.

It is a phenomenon that has taken root in town and judging from the apparent popularity of a new dock-less “bike share” program, it looks like it will be here for awhile.

Malden unveiled two new bike sharing programs in the past week and some say it is already drawing rave reviews.

Ofo and LimeBike debuted pilot programs Friday, each placing more than 100 bicycles around the city, many of them alongside the Malden Bike to the Sea bike path from the West End through Linden for several miles.

These so-called smart bikes are outfitted with GPS, wireless technology and self-locking wheels.

The concept is designed for riding ease. Riders can lease and start up a bike ride with their cell phone by using an app.

Parents Michael Bowdridge, whose son, J.T., is a freshman at Malden High School, said it’s a win-win for a busy family with three boys.

“He loves it,” Bowdridge said of J.T. “It’s like an Uber for kids. J.T. has already used it four or five times and the bikes haven’t even been out around the city for a week yet. He jumps on the bike, gets it going and then either leaves it front of our house or his friend’s house and he’s done with it. It’s great.”

Users download the app to their smart phone to arrange credit card or Paypal payment and locate bicycles. Then pick up the bike, scan the QR code to unlock it and ride.

When the ride is over, users park and lock it and will receive a digital receipt through the app. For $1 per hour, riders may pick up and leave bikes in a convenient spot, anywhere they want. Riders are asked to follow safety guidelines and park bikes in recommended areas, out of the public right of way.

For first-time users, the rides are free. Students pay 50 cents an hour.

Malden Mayor Gary Christenson, a self-described fitness enthusiast, is a big proponent of bike-sharing. He also stresses that bike-sharing is a 10-week pilot program through the end of 2017 to gauge interest.

“Biking is another way to navigate the city and will encourage travel along our bike path while promoting a healthier lifestyle,” Mayor Christenson said, in a statement. “This pilot program through the end of 2017 is a great way to gauge residents’ interest and will help inform us on implementing a permanent program in the spring if we decide to go that route.”

A quick look around the city on Wednesday found about 30 bikes parked outside Malden High School in the morning and more at other schools. There were lots of the yellow Ofo and green LimeBike vehicles around Malden Square and in the neighborhoods.

In Boston and surrounding communities, Hubway bike sharing program is administered with the help of the Metropolitan Area Planning Council (MAPC). This system is planned to expand into Medford and Melrose and other communities next year.

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