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Valley Bike Share selects vendor, looks to get rolling in the near future

An empty ValleyBike docking station in Northampton, Massachusetts, on April 24, 2023.
Alden Bourne
An empty ValleyBike docking station in Northampton, Massachusetts, on April 24, 2023.

The Valley Bike Share program, which was shelved last year, has selected a new operator for its system, with hopes that it will be up and running again soon.

Last year, its previous vendor went bankrupt, which kept the bikes off the streets. The new vendor is Drop Mobility, which operates in more than 30 markets in the U.S. and Canada. The company is currently evaluating the condition of some 700 electric-assist bicycles, which have been in storage for a year and a half.

Northampton administers the program on behalf of eight communities and UMass Amherst. Carolyn Misch, the city's sustainability director, said some bikes may be available by the end of the month, but there are several tasks to be done.

"Sponsorships, ginning up memberships, making sure people understand the bikes are back, how they can get on the bikes, what the membership structure is going to be, how much is it going to cost," Misch said.

Amber Wason, a vice president with Drop Mobility, said what happened with Valley Bike Share losing its vendor to bankruptcy is not a unique scenario.

"You know, bike share is an emerging industry and with that comes consolidation and new players coming and old players leaving," Wason said. "This happens and we're excited to bring it back to life."

The contract with Drop Mobility is for three years, but Misch said that could be extended in order to give the company a chance to gain footing in western Massachusetts.

It costs about $600,000 a year to operate Valley Bike Share. Ridership fees and sponsorships help to offset some of the expenses. How much a community contributes to the program is based on how many stations are located in their respective city or town.

Misch said there also has been interest from other communities about joining Valley Bike Share, and that is something that will be examined going forward. She said another long-term goal is trying to find a sustainable funding mechanism for the program, which could perhaps be accomplished by working with state transportation officials.

The program dates back to 2018.

Adam joined NEPM as a freelance reporter and fill-in operations assistant during the summer of 2011. For more than 15 years, Adam has had a number stops throughout his broadcast career, including as a news reporter and anchor, sports host and play-by-play announcer as well as a producer and technician.
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