Add the city of Irving to the growing list of places with a bike-share program that allows people to pedal around town for work or leisure.

The City Council approved a year-long agreement with Garland-based VBikes during last Thursday's meeting. The agreement will place 20 to 30 bright yellow bikes along Campion Trails, in the southeast part of the city beginning next week, said Joe Moses, assistant director of parks and recreation for the City of Irving.

"People are excited about the notion that we are going to have a bike share in the community," he said. "I think it's going to be a good thing."

The city will look at how often and where the bikes are used to determine whether it will extend its agreement beyond a year, Moses said.

Irving Mayor Rick Stopfer said the city decided to start the program at the trails after different communities in Irving began to ask for ways to better utilize the trails. Stopfer, who also serves on the Dallas Area Rapid Transit board, said the bikes could also help people get from the train to their destinations.

"We've been trying to figure out if there was a way to have bikes available for them to run to the bus," Stopfer said. "This gives them an opportunity to complete that last mile."

Those interested in using one of the bikes can download the VBike app and sign up on their phone to pay $1 per hour or $14.95 per month for unlimited rides. Users will be able to see the trip's duration, distance and calories burned and carbon footprint after a ride.

A great ride

Stopfer said the company appealed to the city because riders do not have to return the bikes to a docking station after they ride. At the end of a trip, riders can park the bike near their destination and manually lock the bike's back wheel.

"One thing that is great about the VBikes is that people can use them in the neighborhood, and they don't have to ride them back to a certain place," Stopfer said.
Lummy Rushiti, the director of government affairs for VBikes, said they chose to expand into Irving because the city is home to large companies and a growing population.
"The Irving area is home to quite the handful of Fortune 500 companies: Exxon Mobile, Nokia America, and the American headquarters of BlackBerry are just a few," he said via email. "Despite its proximity to one of Texas' largest cities, last year Forbes rated Irving the seventh fastest growing city in the country with nearly 14% growth since 2007. The City of Irving will open many doors for our bike share program."

While the bikes will be new to Irving, they have already been on the streets in Dallas and Denton since this summer. Like Irving, Denton uses VBikes. Various bike-sharing companies, including VBikes, began parking them near Klyde Warren Park and a few other corners of downtown Dallas in early June.

Bike sharing programs have grown across the U.S. from four systems in 2010 to 55 systems in 2016, according to data from the National Association of City Transportation Officials.

Irving's current agreement does not say the city cannot enter into a contract with other bike-sharing companies, such as Spin and Limeshare. But Stopfer said they are sticking with VBikes until they can determine the program's success.

"We are expecting it will be very successful," he said. "We are excited to try it and to know where it all goes."

Presented by Dallas Morning News, October 16, 2017

 
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