Healthy Ride has started process of adding electric-assist bikes to its fleet | Pittsburgh City Paper

Healthy Ride has started process of adding electric-assist bikes to its fleet

click to enlarge Healthy Ride has started process of adding electric-assist bikes to its fleet
Image: Courtesy of Bike Share Pittsburgh
Healthy Ride Pittsburgh bike station in East Liberty
Healthy Ride bikes have become a mainstay in Pittsburgh, providing residents with a public transportation alternative to buses or driving. The program will soon go a step further with the addition of electric bikes.

Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto, the Department of Mobility and Infrastructure, and Healthy Ride recently announced the Pittsburgh Bike Share Electrification and Mobility Hubs Project. According to a press release, the project “prioritizes the addition of new electrified bikes to the existing fleet of traditional Healthy Ride pedal bikes in Pittsburgh.”

The Healthy Ride website claims that the bike share service now boasts 650 bikes at 103 solar-powered stations throughout Pittsburgh. As of Wed., Dec. 15, Healthy Ride started uninstalling 50 stations throughout the city in preparation for a new bike-share system featuring electric-assist bicycles, also known as e-bikes, in addition to traditional pedal bikes. The new stations are set to launch in 2022.

The new stations will also include racks fitted with docking hardware for scooters and other motorized mobility devices.

"Creating greater access to equitable mobility options has been a cornerstone of my administration," said Peduto in a press release. "Ensuring our residents have access to quality transportation creates greater opportunity for all citywide. I want to thank the Department of Mobility and Infrastructure and Healthy Ride for collaborating on this next great step."

Currently, Pittsburgh bus and light rail riders can access unlimited 15-minute Healthy Ride bike rentals by using their Port Authority ConnectCard. Rentals can also be set up through the nextbike smartphone app.

E-bikes add a little oomph to a typical riding experience, as they are outfitted with small motors that help with pedaling and speed. The bikes are thought of as being helpful in cities like Pittsburgh that are especially hilly, where riders have to take on more inclines.

In May, Healthy Ride was awarded $750,000 “to assist its transition to electric-assist bicycles.” At the time, the bike-share service said it planned on replacing 325 pedal bikes with e-bikes.

The Pittsburgh Bike Share Electrification and Mobility Hubs Project is being supported with a $900,000 award from the United States Department of Transportation's Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Program, and a $225,000 grant from the city.

The addition of e-bikes would enhance a system that quickly has grown since its launch in 2015. Healthy Ride stations are now located in 24 different Pittsburgh neighborhoods. Healthy Ride claims that it has gained 122,500 registered users since the system’s launch, and clocked around 507,000 bike trips as of Dec. 31, 2020.

It also adds Pittsburgh to the growing list of cities around the country adopting e-bikes to their public bike share programs, including Madison, Wis., Charlotte, N.C., and Chicago, Ill.

David White serves as executive director for Bike Share Pittsburgh, the organization that operates Healthy Ride. White says that, throughout 2021, Bike Share Pittsburgh met with partners, customers, and stakeholders to “help guide the process of building a better bike-share program for Pittsburgh.”

“Electrification and e-assist bicycles are essential to this shift,” he adds.