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Greenwood: Come along for the ride

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Next spring, you can borrow a bike, explore Greenwood’s trails and return the wheels at the end of the day.

The city is launching its own borrow-a-bike program, similar to one that launched in downtown Indianapolis this year. The cost to rent a bike for a few hours or all day hasn’t been set. In Indy, the cost is $8 for an all-day pass.

If the Greenwood program proves popular, expect it to expand to Franklin and encourage more trails projects to connect the cities and the Center Grove area.

The goal is to get people out and active on more than 20 miles of trails.

The city will buy eight bicycles that will be available for people to rent for a fee from the community center for a full day or half-day. People can take the bikes out on the city’s trails or around neighborhoods and then return them in the evening.

The Johnson County Community Foundation is providing a nearly $4,000 grant to help the city buy the bikes to launch the program. The park board is designing the program this year and will decide on details, such as rental fees and safety equipment, before rolling the program out in early spring 2015, Greenwood parks director Rob Taggart said.

Taggart hopes the bike program will encourage more people to get active, but also to explore city parks and see more of Greenwood than what they pass on their way to work or stores.

The parks department also could develop programs to highlight cycling around the city and give out small rewards to someone who rides a circuit of trails, or arrange community rides for families, park board president Mike Sawa said.

“Greenwood really wants to be promoting health and wellness in our community and it’s a great way to do that if someone doesn’t have a bike or if someone doesn’t have a need for a bike, but wants to go for a ride,” Taggart said.

Community foundation grant committee member Seth Perigo encouraged other board members to fund the program as a pilot for the county after seeing riders frequently use bicycles along Indianapolis’ cultural trail. The Indiana Pacers Bikeshare program allows people to pay $8 a day, then use bikes for 30 minutes at a time as many times as they want. When riders are done, they just lock the bike back into one of the electronic racks along the trail.

“I’m seeing it being used on a regular basis and people who don’t appear to have bikes on them are grabbing one and taking one all (through) downtown,” Perigo said.

The Indianapolis program launched in April and quickly logged more than 2,000 rides, Sawa said.

Greenwood’s program wouldn’t work in quite the same way, since the city will have far fewer bikes and they could only be rented and returned at one spot, Taggart said.

Riders will likely have to pay a rental fee, provide some type of information, such as a credit card number, in case they don’t return the bike and sign a waiver in case they get injured, Sawa said. The park board will work with the city’s legal department to decide on all the details of how the program would work, he said.

The bike rental program could allow people who don’t own a bike to test one out and maybe lead to them getting more involved in cycling, Sawa and Perigo said.

If people are frequently renting bikes, Greenwood could then consider buying more, Taggart said.

The program also could spread to other parts of the county, such as Franklin, if the trial in Greenwood is successful, Perigo said.

“We’re just funding a few bikes as kind of an incubator to try to test it out,” Perigo said. “It seems like something people will use. What we’re hoping is this will be a springboard to other activities.”

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