Health, News

Lynn is working to bring a bike share program to the city. Here’s how it works.

A woman leaves Swampscott Public Library and walks past ANT Bicycles parked out front.
A woman leaves Swampscott Public Library and walks past ANT Bicycles parked out front. (Spenser R. Hasak)

LYNN — Shiny bicycles in bright yellow, green, or white could be coming to the city this summer.

Ant Bicycle, the bike sharing program that launched late last year in Swampscott, made its case to the City Council Tuesday night.

The panel has given initial approval to the Cambridge-based company for a pilot program that would operate from June through September.

“I don’t know many bikers in Lynn, but I’m convinced they’re out there somewhere,” said City Councilor-at-Large Brian LaPierre. “We are trying to offer healthy alternatives and this won’t cost the city anything.”

Mayor Thomas M. McGee’s said his office has talked to ofo, a competitor. The Chinese company, which calls itself the world’s largest station-free bike share program, recently completed a pilot program in Revere. The firm is in discussions with the city to return.

Through a spokeswoman, McKee said ofo and other competitors will be invited to make presentations to the council.

“We fully expect to see the new bikes on the streets of Lynn soon,” LaPierre said.

Both companies use similar ways to access a ride. To rent a bike, users download a mobile app and register an account. They then scan a QR code on the bicycle to unlock it and start the trip. When the trip’s over, the rider parks and locks the bike.

Ant charges $1 per hour, $20 per month and $100 annually, while ofo has a flat fee of $1 an hour.

Victor Ng, Ant’s regional manager, said he hopes his fleet of lime green bikes firm will be selected.

“We have the full support of the council but not yet from the mayor,” he said. “We hope to make a presentation to the mayor soon and win his approval.”

Unlike Hubway, a competitor which rents 1,800 bikes at more than 185 locations in Boston, Brookline, Cambridge and Somerville, Ant and ofo do not have stations. Instead bikes can be found parked in the community’s high demand areas.

Like ofo, Ant does not require any upfront fees from communities, a feature that was attractive to Peter Kane, Swampscott’s director of Community Development.

“I reached out to other firms, but lots of them required subsides of as much as $20,000,” he said. “I don’t have bike share budget, so I’m limited. When Ant came along at no cost, it was a win win.”

Kane praised Ant, which started in Swampscott with four bikes and has expanded to 30.

“We launched in November, so few bikes have been used,” he said.”But I expect that to change when the warm weather arrives.”

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