E-Bikeshare Program Launches In St. Augustine
The e-bike craze has arrived in St. Augustine.
E-bikes are bicycles equipped with an electric motor that gives riders a power boost. They're now available for rent at 13 locations around the city including Historic Downtown, West King Street, San Marco Avenue, Lincolnville and Davis Shores.
More than 100 all-electric-assist e-bikes are scattered across the city.
Flagler Health+ is sponsoring the city of St. Augustine's new bikes, and e-bike provider Bolt is managing the program.
“As a Florida company, it’s thrilling to see St. Augustine leverage our vehicles and technology to help reduce pollution and congestion, as well as expand access to this beautiful area,” said Bolt CEO Ignacio Tzoumas.
Like similar programs in other cities, riders first need to download Bolt’s smartphone app. Once it’s set up, riders can use the app to find the nearest e-bike and unlock it with their phone.
Bolt charges $1 to unlock the bike. The cost is then 35 cents per minute to ride it. Although tourists are welcome to use the e-bikes, the city and Flagler Health+ are hoping area residents use the bikes to improve their health and mobility.
“These are not necessarily intended to be sightseeing vehicles or sightseeing bicycles, they're really intended to be a transportation option for folks getting around the city,” said city of St. Augustine spokeswoman Melissa Wissel.
Wissel said the city planned to have a ribbon cutting Tuesday to launch the program but decided against it due to COVID-19 concerns.
The e-bikes include several safeguards.
“There are geofencing areas, whereas, if you're riding through the plaza, the bicycle will stop, or slow down in certain spaces as well, where you’re not allowed to ride the bicycle,” Wissel said.
The e-bikes are available to rent to anyone 18 or older. They include a spacious basket for errands, a cable lock, and security features, like pedal-assisted acceleration, rather than a throttle, and a no-ride or park zone in Plaza de la Constitución and on St. George Street.
Tracking indicates people are already using the e-bikes.
“I know at one point yesterday afternoon, 50 of the bicycles were out and being used. So that's nearly half of them being accessed at one point during the day,” Wissel told WJCT News on Wednesday.
Although not required, everyone is encouraged to wear helmets when renting the e-bikes. Bolt will have helmets available, free of charge, upon request for e-bike users via the app.
“We look forward to residents' and visitors' using this affordable, safe and fun transportation option to commute, run errands and explore our beautiful city,” said St. Augustine Public Works Director Reuben Franklin.