There’s a new kid rolling into Birmingham — on two wheels, a fluorescent green body and promises of no traffic snarls, cleaner air and just plain coolness. Called Zyp Bike Share, Birmingham’s newest transportation option is what REV Birmingham’s Lindsey West, Bike Share director, calls “a perfect fit” for the Magic City.
Organizers rolled out the idea last year after a study that showed downtown Birmingham’s high concentration of people, jobs and wide streets would lend itself to a public bike-sharing program.
Following what West calls “huge support” from the public, political and business communities, Zyp Bike Share is set to launch in October with its first 300 bikes and 30 kiosks located in Birmingham’s City Center. West says the launch will soon be followed by 10 more kiosks and 100 more bikes.
Riders will be able to check out bicycles for short rides by purchasing $75 annual memberships or a $6 day ride, rates which West calls “the cheapest transportation around.”
Birmingham will become one of about 40 cities nationwide to offer public bike sharing and one of only four worldwide to include some electric pedal-assist bikes, giving riders a boost along Birmingham’s often challenging terrain, says West.
“The interest is here. People are talking, and the support is here, ” West says. “The business community has really rallied around. They really get it. They see the benefits, the recruitment potential, the health and wellness factor, the economic impact. Really, they get it.”
The business community actually gets it to the tune of $2.2 million raised toward the $5.2 total cost of the project — a cost that includes start-up capital, installation and five years’ worth of operations. Lead business sponsors include Regions Bank, Alabama Power Foundation and Blue Cross Blue Shield of Alabama. Other sponsors include the City of Birmingham, the Community Foundation and REV Birmingham, which is administering the program.
Text by Linda Long