Omaha bike enthusiasts welcomed the seasonal return of B-Cycle, the city’s public bike-sharing system, on Friday at Aksarben Village.
People can rent a bike from one of five stations in central Omaha, ride it and return it to any station for a fee. It’s designed for short commutes, though it can be used for longer trips and recreational use, too.
More than 1,000 people used the system during the nine months it was available last year. They took 1,282 rides.
“I’m pleased with the results we’ve had,” Omaha’s B-cycle director Ben Turner said before the kickoff event. “We’ve had a lot of people access the system as short-term users. Any time someone gets on the bike, that’s good.”
B-Cycle is a national organization that provides bikes and rental systems for several bike share programs across the country.
Omaha B-Cycle was created in 2011 by the Community Bike Project and Live Well Omaha, with funding from Blue Cross Blue Shield of Nebraska and UNO’s student government.
Turner previously worked for the B-Cycle program in Denver, where users took more than 200,000 trips and used more than 50 stations last year. He took over the Omaha system in January.
Turner would like to install 40 to 60 stations over the next five years and eventually operate year-round, a lofty but manageable goal, he said.
“I think it’s totally possible. I think it would make a big difference in the city.”
This year he hopes to add 20 stations to the existing five, likely concentrated in the downtown area. The organization is currently seeking funds for the expansion.
He also wants users in Omaha to take 2,000 total rides this season.
Rob Trebilcock of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Nebraska also spoke at the event. Trebilcock is the director of community engagement and creative services at BCBSNE. He encouraged the group to use the bikes as alternative exercise and spread the word about B-Cycle.
The bikes are available at five locations — Blue Cross Blue Shield of Nebraska at Aksarben Village, Aksarben Cinema, Center Street next to Wohlner’s Grocery in Aksarben Village, UNO’s Pacific Street campus and UNO’s Dodge Street campus. The Dodge Street location is not currently accessible because of snow but should be operational in mid-March.
A B-Cycle access pass costs $6 and is good for the first hour. Each additional hour is $4. Memberships are also available for $30 monthly or $55 annually. Discounts are available for students and seniors.
Kiosks at the stations explain the rental process.
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