Salt Lake City Mayor Ralph Becker

Now that SLC has its new parking pay stations and an expanded TRAX system, another transit improvement is coming online to help fill up the city’s bike lanes. 

And this one holds a special place for Mayor Ralph Becker. On June 19, he officially announced SLC Bike Share is on its way.

The non-profit, which will set up 10 stations around the city with 100 bicycles to pick up and ride, launches in March 2013.

But it’s not like Redbox for bikes.

Since it’s a shared (not rental) program, all bikes will need to be returned to solar powered docking stations at the end of each ride. Riders will get membership cards they can tap on a pad at a docking station to unlock a bike. Membership ranges from $5 for 24-hour access to $75 for a full year.  

Bikes can only be taken for 30 minutes at a time, but stations are well under 30 minutes from one another.

 “They are a convenient, easy way for people to get around a city like ours,” Becker says. “And we’re fortunate in a way not to be the first city to do this, because there are always bugs to get worked out.”

Other cities with similar programs include Denver, Washington, D.C., and Paris, France. The idea to bring the bikes to SLC started in mayor’s office, but later, it was brought to the Downtown Alliance to get it rolling.

Ben Bolte, who has been working to implement the project for the past year, says the public will be introduced to the program at events like Craft Lake City. And when nobody is riding the bikes, he says maintenance workers will keep them in shape and working order.

Jason Mathis, executive director of the Downtown Alliance, says the project still needs more funding, but on the day of the official announcement, the program received a $244,500 boost from the Redevelopment Agency Board of the City Council. “We see this bike program as one more piece of infrastructure that compliments all the other things we have going on downtown,” says Kyle LaMalfa, chair of the RDA. “Salt Lake City has been the leader in preserving walkable communities, and with this bike program, we can get a little further than we can on our feet.”

Bikes similar to those that will be in SLC were shown at the announcement at the City and County Building. But unlike the ones on display (pictured), the local bikes will be labeled Green Bike and be completely unique to the city.

Nick Como, communications director for Downtown Alliance, says the bikes will be three speeds and built for riders wearing any attire, including dresses and business suits. “I was riding one of the examples around today in my business suit,” he says. “They have a chain guard so you don’t get your pants stuck—you don’t need any biking attire, other than a helmet.” And if you don’t have a helmet, Intermountain's LDS Hospital has already offered to supply one to annual Bike Share members.

Executive director of the Downtown Alliance, Jason Mathis

Mathis says the more local business sponsors the program gets, the more the program can expand. Supporters already include Visit Salt Lake, Fidelity Investments, LDS Hospital,, Rio Tinto and SelectHealth.  

“When we first heard about this from the Downtown Alliance, a number of our team said ‘it sounds intriguing, tell us more,’” says Patricia Richards, CEO of SelectHealth. “So, we looked at the experience in other cities, and what we learned from their experience is this is really a way to promote health.”  

Based on Denver’s statistics, locals with an annual membership could drop 10 to 12 pounds.