Charm City BikeShare to Feature Largest E-Assist Fleet in North America
Baltimore is set to join a list of some 700+ cities worldwide that offer a bike share program. The program, to be named Charm City BikeShare, will be a partnership between Bewegen Technologies, a Canadian-based company who won a $2.36 million contract offered by the city of Baltimore.
With the backing of Bewegen, Charm City BikeShare has promised to open with over 500 bikes spread across 50 stations throughout Baltimore. But perhaps most impressive is that 200 of the bicycles will offer electric-assisted pedaling.
E-assisted bikes have obvious appeal to bike share programs throughout the world, but have only recently begun proliferating into the mainstream. Last year, Madrid became the world’s first city to offer system-wide e-assist bikes in their bike share, and Birmingham, Alabama pioneered North America’s first e-assist bike share. But Charm City will eclipse Birminham to become the largest e-fleet in the Western Hemisphere.
“When you hear about cities that have a great biking reputation, it boils down to two things: protected bike lanes and bike share,” said Caitlyn Dolan, a city bicycle and pedestrian coordinator, in an interview with local CBS affiliate WJZ.
For Baltimore, the announcement of Charm City BikeShare comes as part of a larger push to create more hospitable lanes, trails, and facilities for bikes in the hopes of promoting health and livability of a city that has struggled in recent years.
“For Baltimore, expanding our network of sustainable transportation options is critical both to retaining our residents and attracting new families into our city,” Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake said. “Being a bikeable city means being a better, more livable city, and it also means making Baltimore greener, cleaner and healthier.”
Officials estimate that the Charm City BikeShare will add 80 jobs to the area, and they are consulting with residents and neighborhoods to determine where the best locations for bike share stations will be.
But of course, along with hopes of improved city livability and traffic reductions that come part and parcel with a local bike share program, the health benefits of cycling are not to be forgotten.
“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.”
The Charm City BikeShare is set to launch in the fall of this year.