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CDPHP/CDTA Cycle! Program Ends First Season

The first season of the Capital Region's bike-share program is being hailed as a major success.

In late July, Capital District Physicians Health Plan and the Capital District Transportation Authority officially launched the "Cycle!" program in Albany. Since then officials say riders have taken more than 11,400 bike trips covering nearly 27,000 miles.  Rental bike stations have seen heavy use by both commuters and recreational riders throughout Albany, Schenectady, Saratoga Springs and Troy.

“When they first presented it to me, this was a no-brainer. I talk about no-brainers all the time. Some decisions I make very quickly and this was one of them,”  said CDPHP President and CEO John Bennett, who added that during his 25 years as a cardiologist he always urged his patients to keep moving.   “Biking reduces stress, lessens the incidence of heart disease…”

Officials say the 2,000-member strong ridership shed more than 793,000 calories and reduced carbon emissions by 17,488 pounds.

Credit WAMC photo by Dave Lucas
Albany Mayor Kathy Sheehan on her bike along Madison Avenue.

Troy City Council President Carmella Mantello says the Collar City was glad to host the program.   "It's not just a health benefit and a recreational benefit. It's a quality of life benefit for the communities that host bike trails and the bike-sharing program, and it certainly has an economic impact value on the community.'

Mantello expects additional bike racks will be installed throughout Troy next year. Over in Albany, Mayor Kathy Sheehan, herself a cycling enthusiast, witnessed the program bloom from its inception.  "I wanted to drive around a little and see the bikes actually getting dropped off. And immediately, at the drop-off sites that I saw, people were coming off the sidewalks, coming out of stores and asking questions about it, and asking how it works.”

Sheehan says the city has become more bike-friendly. Plans call more than 300 bikes to be in service throughout the network by next summer.   Each bike is equipped with an onboard GPS unit and a computer keypad to enable customers to access the service. They can set up an account tied to a credit, debit  or CDTA Navigator card through the Cycle! Website or smartphone app. 

The general rate is $5 an hour for occasional riders, but there are several other plans offered.

One of the busiest bike racks is at the Corning Preserve in Albany. Officials note the average length of a bike share trip is 33 minutes with an average distance of 2.8 miles. Mantello notes the longest trip logged on a CDPHP Cycle was 24 miles. "And the stats really really prove that this was just an outstanding benefit to the communities."

According to the National Association of City Transportation Officials, bike-share ridership across the U.S. has increased from 320,000 trips in 2010 to 28 million in 2016.  CDTA CEO Carm Basile said the bike share program complements the agency’s buses.    “They use bikes now to connect to buses, they use buses to connect to bikes..”

The program, now shut down for winter, gears up again April 1st.

Dave Lucas is WAMC’s Capital Region Bureau Chief. Born and raised in Albany, he’s been involved in nearly every aspect of local radio since 1981. Before joining WAMC, Dave was a reporter and anchor at WGY in Schenectady. Prior to that he hosted talk shows on WYJB and WROW, including the 1999 series of overnight radio broadcasts tracking the JonBenet Ramsey murder case with a cast of callers and characters from all over the world via the internet. In 2012, Dave received a Communicator Award of Distinction for his WAMC news story "Fail: The NYS Flood Panel," which explores whether the damage from Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee could have been prevented or at least curbed. Dave began his radio career as a “morning personality” at WABY in Albany.
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