Cycle sharing: Grid revolutionizes downtown biking

Anyone can see that green from a mile away.

A few months ago these little green bikes popped up on Valley streets from Grid Bike Share, and now Phoenix residents can rent one of these bicycles with a simple smartphone app.

"There was a need for it here," Grid Bike Share Director John Romero says. "Phoenix is a maturing metropolis and a true contender on the national level."

Romero says the bikes aren't just about giving Valley residents an option for transportation, but it is also a "tool to save society."

"The idea of a car-free life is not impossible," Romero says. "We are getting closer and closer to a car-light or car-free life. Our bikes get us one step closer to that."

There are currently 500 bikes at different locations in Phoenix, Romero says, with the green modes of transportation coming soon to Mesa and Tempe.

Romero says Phoenix is in the process of reinvention and will soon have more bike lanes.

"The city is focusing efforts to allocate dollars to redesigning streets to make them safer and quieter for bicyclists," Romero says. "It's a matter of changing our culture. Bicycles are vehicles too and there are equal rights to the road."

Monica Hernandez, spokeswoman for street transportation in Phoenix, says the system is working wonderfully and that it is going as planned.

"We just got federal dollars to pay for more bikes and stations," Hernandez says.

Hernandez says the city is working to become more bike-friendly and pedestrian-friendly and is working to design roadways that focus on making safer streets for all users.

"It's all tied back to making our city more bike and pedestrian friendly," Hernandez says.

Hernandez says a unique thing about Grid Bike Share in Phoenix is that, with the technology on the bikes, there is no need for a customer to return it to a Grid Bike station. They can simply lock it up to any public rack. People can also locate a bike anywhere using the Grid Bike Share app, even if it isn't at the station.

Phoenix is making headway in the bicycle community, Hernandez says, as the city was awarded a bronze Bicycle Friendly Community Award from the League of American Bicyclists.

The bicycles available for rent are also contributing to a change in Phoenix residents' health, Romero says.

"Commuting on bikes changes a person's life," Romero says. "It creates a different mindset, more zen, for people. It releases endorphins and raises a person's heart rate."

"It reduces traffic congestion and lowers the obesity rate," Romero says.

Romero says the selection of stations in the Valley is very carefully monitored.

There is a list of criteria, he says, that the stations have to meet. They have to be a good distance apart and in popular areas.

Since its inception, there have been zero bikes stolen from Grid Bike Share stations, Romero says.

Journalism sophomore Aubrey McCleve says she rides the Grid Bikes at least a few times a week.

"I take it when I'm hanging out downtown," McCleve says. "It's so cheap and so easy and the stations are everywhere so it works out perfect."

Romero says he encourages everyone to try out the system.

"There is a joy and freedom that comes with commuting around town on a bicycle, plus it's cheaper than parking meters," he says.

Reach the reporter at Alexa.Dangelo@asu.edu or via Twitter @andangelo15.


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