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Tampa's Coast bike-rental program begins signing up members

TAMPA — Tampa's new downtown bike-rental program launched membership registration Monday with an offer: pay a little more and get more riding time.

Coast Bike Share is scheduled to launch next month with 300 bikes distributed across more than 30 hubs throughout downtown, on Bayshore Boulevard, in Hyde Park, on Davis Islands and in Ybor City.

"This is another piece of the puzzle for everything we're trying to do to make downtown a workable, pedestrian-oriented, retail-driven environment that will help us attract the best and the brightest from around the country," Mayor Bob Buckhorn said moments before taking one of the sky-blue bikes for a short ride along Franklin Street.

The program's founding memberships — on sale through CoastBikeShare.com — cost $99 a year. For that, users will get a total of 90 minutes of riding time per day instead of the one hour of daily riding time that will come with other Coast memberships.

Coast plans to sell daily memberships for $5, monthly memberships for $30 and annual memberships for $79.

Members will be able to use a mobile app — app.socialbicycles.com — and a credit card to reserve a bike, or they can pick one up from one of Coast's kiosks using the bike's built-in keypad. After reserving a bike, users will enter a four-digit PIN code to unlock the bike and begin riding.

An on-board computer will keep track of riding time. When riders want to stop, they can press a "HOLD" button and use the lock that comes with the bike to secure it to a rack. When they return to the bike, they'll use their PIN to unlock the bike and continue riding.

"You can break that (daily riding) time up however you see fit," Coast program director Eric Trull said. On average, a typical ride will be about 14 minutes. Riding time beyond the hour that comes with daily, monthly and annual memberships will cost $2.50 per half-hour, up to $25 per day.

The bikes cost about $1,000 each and are designed to accommodate a wide range of riders, with seats that adjust for riders from 5 feet 1 to 6 feet 6. They have Kevlar tires, grease-free drive shafts and on-board GPS to track bikes and deter theft.

In 2013, City Hall chose a partnership between CycleHop of Miami Beach and Social Bicycles of New York City to launch the program, similar to those found in a growing number of cities.

Eventually, the city hopes Coast adds more bikes to its fleet so that the program can grow into West Shore, Seminole Heights and the University of South Florida.

A 10-year contract between the city and the Social Bicycles-CycleHop partnership will not cost taxpayers anything to create or run the program. Instead, the city agreed to allow Coast to put the bikes, racks and service kiosks on public rights of way, as well as sell advertising. Coast also is looking for businesses to sponsor hubs. For details, email Eric@coastbikeshare.com.

Contact Richard Danielson at rdanielson@tampabay.com or (813) 226-3403. Follow @Danielson_Times.

Tampa's Coast bike-rental program begins signing up members 07/07/14 [Last modified: Monday, July 7, 2014 10:12pm]
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