Blue Cross And Blue Shield Of Louisiana Title Sponsor Of City’s Bike Share Program
NEW ORLEANS – Today, the City of New Orleans announced Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana is the title sponsor of the city’s first bike share program. The city’s bike share vendor, Social Bicycles, joined Blue Cross President and CEO Dr. I. Steven Udvarhelyi to unveil the program, named Blue Bikes.
“Bringing bike share to our city will expand transportation options for our residents and visitors at a low cost,” said Mayor Mitch Landrieu. “We are excited to partner with Blue Cross and Blue Shield in this project, creating a healthy way for residents and visitors to experience New Orleans. Blue Bikes is integrated with our transit system and won’t cost the people of New Orleans any money to maintain. Building quality public transit is essential to building a city for the ages. We can’t wait for the program to begin in late fall.”
Blue Cross President and CEO Dr. I. Steven Udvarhelyi said, “We are dedicated to improving the health and lives of Louisianans, which Blue Bikes will do. This program not only gives city residents and visitors a new, environmentally friendly transportation option, it will also create more opportunities to burn calories, improve fitness and expand access to fresh, healthy options in food desert areas. It’s fair to say that getting around the Big Easy is about to get easier. We couldn’t be happier to join with the city in bringing this innovative program to New Orleans.”
The final station locations are a result of the robust community outreach process involving residents, partner agencies, institutions, community groups, businesses and stakeholders, city reps said. More than 100 participants attended six community workshops in March and April 2017 and provided input on bike share station location maps. In June 2017, residents voted online to provide feedback on bike share station locations that would best serve their transportation needs.
Now that final input is complete, locations are being assessed for feasibility, including sufficient sun exposure for battery charging, space availability, 24-hour access, and visibility.
Blue Bikes will launch in late fall of 2017 with 700 bikes in 70 locations. Once established, Social Bicycles plans to expand the program based on rider demand. The Blue Bikes pricing structure includes discounts for locals and Blue Cross customers. A separate pricing track will be available for residents who qualify for public assistance to purchase rides at a lower cost. One-hundred percent of the bike share program will be privately financed through sponsorships, advertisements, and rental fees.
The new bikes have smart-design safety features built in, to lower risks of injury or theft. Some Blue Bikes features are not yet available in any other bike share market in the country. The Blue Bikes will have GPS tracking and remote locking capabilities, chainless operation, front and rear safety lights and an eight-speed internal hub. Riders can keep track of their miles pedaled, calories burned and carbon offset, and they can use the Blue Bikes app to share their stats with friends. All bikes will be equipped with a sturdy basket rides can use to carry groceries and other belongings.
Bike share is a fun, healthy and convenient transit option that offers online and on-the-spot opportunities to reserve and rent a bike throughout the City, reps said. The goal is to provide a seamless, sustainable, and affordable mode of transportation. It is designed to serve all residents, improve neighborhood quality of life, and provide year-round, equitable access to work sites and destinations, city reps said.
Studies of bike share programs across the country show an increase in cycling and the health benefits that accompany it. These benefits are not just limited to the actual program. Cities with bike share programs also see an overall increase in bicycles sales, with part-time riders converting to full-time commuters.
The fees for bike rental are:
• Monthly Pass: $15 for unlimited trips up to one hour of riding a day (hourly rate thereafter).You can take as many trips as desired that all together add up to 60 minutes. For example, a 15-minute ride to work in the morning, a 5-minute ride for lunch and a 30-minute ride home to pick up some food totals 50 minutes for the day.
• Low-Income Pass: $1.67 per month ($20 per year) for unlimited trips up to one hour of riding a day (hourly rate thereafter).
• Pay-as-you-go: $8 per hour of riding (pro-rated).
New Orleans is growing rapidly as a bicycling city. The city was recognized as a bicycle-friendly community in fall 2014 by the League of American Bicyclists. Recently, New Orleans was selected by People for Bikes as one of 10 cities to participate in their Big Jump Project to reimagine bicycle infrastructure.