Offering a bicycle-sharing program isn’t that unusual, but offering to fix residents’ bikes is. That’s how an Ohio transit agency’s fulfilling its mission as the region’s first choice for alternative transportation.
“Our goal is to help promote healthy lifestyles and control traffic by having fewer vehicles on the road,” says Greater Dayton RTA Performance Management Analyst John Hoff.
Launched 41 years before the region’s first street was paved, the agency bills itself as “Ohio’s greenest fleet.” Diesel, hybrid diesel, and electric trolley buses making 3,300 stops along 31 routes in two counties provide nine million passenger trips a year.
In May 2015, the agency added bicycles to its fleet as the 31st BCycle LLC customer (motto: “Pedal it Forward”). Formed in 2008 to serve Democratic National Convention delegates, the Denver-based company provides bicycles designed by Trek Bicycle Corp., solar-powered docking stations, and back-end software. Members can use the system in any other BCycle city.
Link Dayton has 24 stations and more than 200 bikes. So far, residents and visitors have used the system more than 32,000 times. More than 50 employees got free annual memberships, which cost $65, as part of the agency’s employee wellness program.
After hearing residents complain about having to travel miles to get their own bikes serviced, the agency took matters into its own hands. Hoping to change the perception that cycling is purely a recreational activity, the agency turned its 3,000-square-foot bike shop into a full-service repair operation.
“Since we already had the facility and the resources, it was a very small startup cost,” says Hoff.
In addition to $59.90 tune-ups, the three technicians at the Wright Stop Bike Shop fix wheels and hubs, derailleur/drivetrain, brakes, headset, and bottom bracket. They’ll also install accessories like aerobars, fenders, rear racks, and handlebars. On average, the shop brings in about $1,200 per month.
They use Allen wrenches and sockets, component-specific tools, and bleed kits for hydraulic brakes made by such well-known industry vendors as Park Tool Co., Pedro’s North America, Cyclus, and Shimano Inc. The three men have a combined 16 years of bike repair experience and receive additional training from the Barnett Bicycle Institute for Bicycle Mechanics of Colorado Springs, Colo.
As more municipalities incorporate bicycles into their public transit networks, Hoff predicts more public transit agencies will follow suit in the near future.
The shop gives back to the community in another way as well. Greater Dayton RTA is involved in the Earn-A-Bike program, which teaches repair/safety fundamentals. Upon completion of the multisession course, graduates keep their bicycle and receive a helmet, lock, and tool kit.
“We’re not here to compete with other bike shops,” Hoff says. “Our focus is to serve the downtown area and fill a void that we feel local cyclists need. Our goal is for people to be comfortable riding their bikes downtown.”