By Desi Durbin Quaker Valley High School
If you’ve been in Pittsburgh lately you’ve likely noticed the bikes. Whether it’s the sleek new bike rental stations, the custom artist-designed bike racks, or the two-way protected bike lanes implemented throughout the city it would appear that someone wants biking to become a part of the Pittsburgh culture. Its certainly a good time to be a bike enthusiast in the city of Pittsburgh as bikes have received no shortage of attention in the Steel City as of late.
One of the newest additions to the city’s bike scene is the Healthy Ride bike share program. Nextbike is the company behind the program and they’re intent on bringing affordable eco-friendly transportation to the people of the world. The company has implemented programs such as the one in Pittsburgh in 16 countries and three continents with 25,000 bikes worldwide.
Renting a bike is easy enough assuming you have a credit card. First you have to register an account with Nextbike which can be done online or through the mobile app. One can rent the bike through the mobile app, Nextbike’s customer service number, the Kiosk, or, if you’re a paid member, you can use your card. I chose the to use the mobile app and it was as simple as scanning the QR code with my phone, pressing rent, typing a four digit pin into the bikes keypad, and sliding the bike off the rack.
Nextbike charges $2 per 30 minutes spent on the bike. If your bike is not returned by the end of your 30 minutes another $2 will be charged per 30 minute period until it is returned. Assuming you can get to where you need to go in 30 minutes Healthy Ride is the cheapest public transportation option in the city with the lowest bike rental rate I could find being $8 per hour and the minimum possible bus fare being $2.50. The bike can be returned at any Healthy Ride station by simply sliding the bike onto the locking mechanism and pressing return. With 34 active stations throughout the Pittsburgh area and another 16 on the way you should never be too far from a bike.
While Healthy Ride is the cheapest and most low maintenance bike rental service in the city it also only offers one product. That product being a seven speed bulky bike that has a basket on the front. The ride feels smooth and renting and return is easy enough. If you’re simply looking to get from Point A to Point B in an eco-friendly and healthy manner then Healthy Ride is a perfect service for you. However, if you’re looking to navigate Pittsburgh’s hills at top speeds I recommend looking into different services.
For a long time bringing a Bike Share service to Pittsburgh was merely an idea rather than possible reality. This is largely due to the fact that until recently many did not feel comfortable navigating the city’s streets. With steep hills and more bridges than any other city in America it’s no surprise that Pittsburgh’s roads have a bad reputation. In early 2014 city officials set out to change this bad reputation by implementing five miles of protected bike lanes. The project would implement a two-way bike lane that would connect most of the city’s vital areas. The bike lanes are either protected by parked cars or white vertical dividers. City officials felt that the bike lanes would help reduce carbon emissions and traffic while bringing more customers to the Burgh’s variety of stores and restaurants.
The bike lanes haven’t come without backlash, as many two-way roads have been turned into one lane forcing motorists to learn new routes to navigate the city. Others feel that the government is focusing on the few rather than the many in its delegation of $108,000 to produce something that the majority of people aren’t using. Some store owners claim that they have seen an increase in traffic to their stores since the implementation of the lanes while others say that their revenue has decreased.
This difference in claims can likely be attributed to what products these stores are selling and whether or not someone can take them on a bike.
Whether you love it or hate bike culture seems to be ever-growing here in Pittsburgh.