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New Bike Share Program Comes to Fairbanks

Fairbanks, AK - A ribbon cutting ceremony tonight will mark the beginning of a new bike share program in Fairbanks.  Organizers will introduce three prototype bikes this summer.  By next year, they hope to have more than 140 bikes available for public use all over the Golden Heart City.

By this time next year, locals and tourists alike may be commuting between the University and downtown Fairbanks on fluorescent green commuter bikes.  John Stoman is a founding member of a new bike share program, known as Fairbikes. He says visibility is key.  “You could probably pick these bikes out from a mile at least," says Stoman.  "That’s part of the strategy because you want these bikes to be visibility because we want that right now, but also long term, we want safety to be the main focus of these bikes.”

By next summer, the bikes will be stationed at up to 25 locations along the College Road corridor.  Stoman says organizers are aiming for a program that’s easy to use.  “And everything here is geared to be simple, commuter style bike that lends itself to simple operation and low maintenance.  Something somebody can pick up and drop off and never have an issue with," he says.

Members of the community can rent bikes for an hour up to a full day or more using a swipe card or a smart phone.  Jennifer Eskridge is also a founding member of Fairbikes.  She says the program is privately funded.  “A lot of bike share programs are done with municipalities and non-profits," she says, "but they then struggle with funding sources.  We don’t want to do that.  We want it to become available and stay available and be available based on the need of our community, so it will be scalabale based on our community’s desires.”

Three bikes have been purchased locally for the program so far.  Esksridge and John Stoman will join partner Juliet Shepherd in showing off the bikes at various events all summer long.   “This summer’s all about feedback, what do they want, what do they not like about it,” says Shepherd.

Eventually, 140 bikes will be available.  They will also be maintained at a local area bike shop.  The group hasn’t decided if the program will be available during the winter.