A regional bike share system is set to launch this week. It'll eventually include 500 bikes across five western Massachusetts communities: Northampton, Springfield, South Hadley, Holyoke and Amherst – including UMass.
Bikes will become available in some communities beginning Thursday. They're all electric pedal-assisted.
Amherst Sustainability Coordinator Stephanie Ciccarello, an early organizer of the program, said that makes a real difference.
"They really do increase the demographic of potential users, so we think that more people will be served than would be...by a bike share program that was not an electric-assist program," Ciccarello said. "It really sort of changes the game."
While Thursday marks the official launch, the rollout of Springfield's 14 kiosks will lag a bit, according to city planner Scott Hanson.
"There are a number of variables in putting the bike share stations in," Hanson said. "They all require electricity, three of the Springfield stations require concrete pads, some of them are related to – or are affected by – existing construction in the city."
That includes construction of the MGM casino, Hanson said. As many as five kiosks may be installed by the end of the week, he said, with all of them likely available by mid-July.