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Bike Share Launches Across Capital Region

Like New York, Chicago, Boston and others before it, the Capital Region entered the bike share era today. This morning Capital District Physicians Health Plan and the Capital District Transportation Authority officially launched the "Cycle!"  program in Albany's Washington Park.

“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.”  CDPHP President and CEO John Bennett told the gathering 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…”

Cycle! is being touted as a revolution in mobility – a public transportation tool to enhance healthier lifestyles and ease-of-travel. CDTA’s Carm Basile believes it’s a program whose time has come.   “What we wanna do is bring all of the mobility choices together. Buses, bikes, ride-sharing, taxis. Everything should work together under one menu. People will know where to go to get information, where to go to get access, and you can move from one to the other, seamlessly, easily, no pain, all gain.”

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Credit WAMC photo by Dave Lucas
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Albany Mayor Kathy Sheehan, herself a cycling enthusiast, has been a big supporter of bike sharing.

Think of renting a bike, riding it to another location where you can catch a city bus, then coming home later by way of Uber...  Albany Mayor Kathy Sheehan, herself a cycling enthusiast, has been a big supporter.  “The city’s role in this is to find the places to put the bike stations and to ensure that there’s infrastructure there to be able to have these bike stations. And so, 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.”

There are 20 bike-sharing locations throughout the city of Albany. It’ s also available in Troy, Schenectady and Saratoga Springs, with a total of 160 bicycles available region-wide for now. Officials are planning to have 300 bikes in service by next summer. Cyclist and state Assemblymember Pat Fahy lauded Basile and the bike program’s multiple benefits: healthy individuals and a cleaner environment.   “His universal access program that he cut with not just the universities around here but Albany Med and the new casino, it’s taking thousands upon thousands of people out of their cars and taking advantage of these options.”

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Rental rates (click on image to ENLARGE)

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. 

What if a bike is lost, stolen or the rider fails to return it? According to Lauren Bailey. Mobility Manager with Capital District Transportation Authority (CDTA):

Each CDPHP Cycle! bicycle is equipped with GPS capability. We are able to live track each bicycle as it is being ridden. Currently, the system requires a credit/debit card to create an account—if you ride off with the bicycle, we are able to continue charging your account. Separately, there is a section in the Terms & Conditions where if the bicycle is truly stolen while it is unlocked under your account, you are charged for the cost of the bicycle. There is also a system boundary and if you lock the bicycle up outside of the boundary, it is a $100 charge.

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Where to pick up a bike rental

In Albany

  • Ontario Street and Madison Avenue
  • Palace Theatre (Clinton Avenue & North Pearl Street)
  • South Lake Avenue and Madison Avenue
  • New Scotland Avenue and Ontario Street
  • Swinburne Park (Clinton Avenue & Ontario Street)
  • Albany Medical Center
  • Warehouse District
  • Washington Park (Madison Avenue & New Scotland Avenue)
  • Holland Avenue and Delaware Avenue
  • Clinton Avenue and Lark Street
  • Western Avenue and North Lake Avenue
  • Lark Street and Spring Street
  • State Street and South Swan Street (heading southeast)
  • State Street and Lodge Street (heading northwest)
  • Townsend Park
  • Maiden Lane Park
  • Hudson Riverway Park (Corning Preserve)
  • The Point
  • Empire State Plaza

RELATED: 

Capital Region, NY (July 28, 2017) – Jointly, AAA Northway and AAA Hudson Valley announced that beginning August 1st, AAA members will have their bicycles covered by AAA’s emergency roadside assistance plan within their joint coverage areas. The service will automatically apply to all AAA members in both clubs at no additional charge beyond the regular, annual membership dues.

The announcement was made at Lions Park in Niskayuna and AAA was joined by Niskayuna Town Supervisor, Joe Landry and President of the Albany Bicycle Coalition, Lorenz Worden.

“The Mohawk-Hudson Bike Trail is one of the most popular attractions in our Town. Thousands of residents and visitors each year enjoy the scenic views that Niskayuna has to offer,” said Joe Landry, Niskayuna Town Supervisor. “We are glad to see AAA offering this new bike service which will increase the safety of and convenience for our residents and others.”

“For nearly 100 years, AAA has come to the assistance of motorists stranded at the roadside. Now, AAA’s roadside assistance network is equipped to come to the aid of members choosing a bicycle as a form of transportation,” said Tara Ricard, Marketing Manager for AAA Hudson Valley. “August 1st represents the next step in AAA’s evolution as the premier provider of roadside assistance,” added Ricard.

“The new bicycle roadside service demonstrates AAA’s commitment to meeting the changing needs of our members as the popularity of biking continues to grow across our state,” said Eric Stigberg, Managing Director of Public Affairs for AAA Northway. “Whether riding for sport, recreation, or exercise, it’s important for cyclists and motorist to share the road and keep safety as a top priority for everyone.”

The Albany Bicycle Coalition is a supporter of this new service. “The Albany Bicycle Coalition is committed to encouraging people to ride their bicycles and to urging municipalities and other agencies to provide safe and convenient facilities for these riders.”  Lorenz M. Worden, President of the Coalition, went on to say, “We are grateful for the opportunity to join with AAA Northway and AAA Hudson Valley in welcoming this ‘trail side assistance’ to AAA members who choose to explore or commute on the many multiuse paths, trails, and roadways in the Capital Region.  Members who may have only modest mechanical skills will be able to rely on this service – thus encouraging greater ridership.”

Assistance for bicycle breakdowns will be obtained in the same manner as requesting roadside help for an automobile along serviceable roadways by calling 1-800-AAA-HELP. Coverage extends to Albany, Columbia, Greene, Rensselaer, Schenectady, Saratoga, Montgomery, Fulton, Warren, Washington, Hamilton, Franklin, Essex, Clinton, Broome, Chemung, and Tioga counties. 

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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