Boise GreenBike — the city’s bike-sharing service — will experience a major expansion this spring with bike racks headed to parks along the Boise River Greenbelt and in the North End.
GreenBike also is adding 15 bikes, giving it a fleet of 129 cruiser-style bikes.
The new racks, likely to arrive in May, will spread the bicycle fleet to more parts of the city and target the way the bikes often have been used — as recreation rather than commuter transportation.
“From the data, it seems that (riders) really love the Greenbelt,” said Dave Fotsch, the Boise GreenBike director.
The service launched in April 2015 aimed at reducing car trips. The 114 bikes were clustered at 15 stations in Downtown and at Boise State.
However, 82 percent of the members choose the “pay as you go” option — and they average 44 minutes per ride. Combined with the zip codes of the members, Fotsch concludes that many of the riders live outside of Boise and utilize the system to cruise the Greenbelt on weekends.
About 120 cities have a bike-sharing program, he said.
“Increasingly, it’s becoming something tourists look for as a way to explore the cities they’re visiting,” he said.
So GreenBike has moved to capitalize on that trend. Its advertising budget has been used to promote the service at the Boise Airport and on coasters at Downtown bars. The city of Boise provided a grant to purchase racks for Greenbelt parks and Camel’s Back Park. Racks purchased by businesses or other entities will be added at locations around town, including Hyde Park and Harris Ranch.
“(Hyde Park) has been one of the most highly requested locations,” Fotsch said.
Boise GreenBike experienced significant growth in ridership in 2016, its first full year. The service peaked at more than 7,300 members, more than double the total for 2015. About two-thirds of members are 40 years old or younger.
During the busy season from May 1 to Sept. 30, total trips nearly doubled to 16,049 last year.
Still, the service receives 75 percent of its revenue from sponsorships and only 24 percent from memberships — a disparity that needs to shrink long term.
“I think it’s been successful,” Fotsch said. “I would always like to see more ridership.”
GreenBike rides cost $5 per hour. The bikes can be left at system hubs or one of the designated flex hubs, which are standard racks where the bikes can be locked without an extra fee. Bikes also can be locked outside the system for a $2 fee. Monthly plans range from $15 to $100. You can sign up for a membership at a payment kiosk (there are 10 in the system), at boise.greenbike.com or through the Social Bicycles app.