LAW & PUBLIC SAFETY

Camden bike share launches to give options, go green and get exercise

BY Michael Hill, Correspondent |

Camden launched its bike-share with Mayor Frank Moran, freeholders and transportation researchers, who were among the first to take a spin.

“Very user friendly. The city of Camden is rising. We’re offering amenities you see in Philadelphia, New York,” Moran said.

The mayor says Camden is nine square miles, but has 10 miles of bike lanes to accommodate the new bike-share program.

Camden Bike Share is a partnership among the city, county and Cooper’s Ferry Partnership and the “Get Healthy Campaign”. Ofo, a company based in China, provides the bikes. Riders must download the Ofo app and sign up. The app uses GPS technology to locate a bike. Riders use their phones to get and enter a code.

The clock starts to tick on the dollar-an-hour ride. To end the ride and the charge, riders just have to lock the bike.

Here’s how Camden Bike Share is different from Citi Bike: Citi Bike has places to dock the bike when riders are done. Camden Bike Share has no docks. It’s station-free as the company calls it.

“We try to encourage folks to leave them at various places, such as bike racks and near transportation stations, near the sidewalk off of the pedestrian right of way, etc.,” said David London, senior director for North America Government Affairs at ofo.

“They stand out, which is important, and I’m sure the folks that are going to use it are going to set the example of I’m not just going to leave it in the middle of the street, or on a corner where it shouldn’t be, and I’ll put it where it will now encourage us to put more bike racks throughout the city,” Moran said.

This is the start of the six month pilot program for Bike Share in Camden. They’ll start off with 200 bikes, and within the next month, go up to 500.

Ofo says a local company will retrieve bikes in low ridership areas, and this doesn’t requiring taking up parking space or tearing up infrastructure.

The partners say this bike share is about going green, getting exercise and giving city residents more transportation options and to knock down access barriers to bikes. Some barriers that Charles Brown, Senior Researcher at the Voorhees Transportation Center at Rutgers University, has identified are costs, storage and fears of being hit and profiled.

“What we care most about is that everyone in the city of Camden has access to a bicycle, that’s the ultimate measure of success,” Brown said.

What if a potential rider doesn’t have a credit card or bank account? The partners say they’ll roll out a voucher program soon to make sure residents of Camden can indeed share in Camden Bike Share.