By Kathy Chouteau
Richmond is launching its first-ever bikeshare program, with a fleet of 250 electric-assist e-bikes rolling into hub locations at the ferry terminal and BART station starting this week and continuing throughout the summer, according to the city. The result of a partnership between the City of Richmond and Bolt Mobility (Bolt)—a personal transportation company cofounded by eight-time Olympic Gold Medalist Usain Bolt—the e-bike program aims to expand access and transportation options for all.
“Richmond is perhaps the best city in the Bay Area to get around on a bike,” said Richmond Mayor Tom Butt, noting that Richmond has more San Francisco Francisco Bay Trail than any other Bay Area city, as well as a strong commitment to health and mobility. “I look forward to residents riding Bolt’s e-bikes to the Ferry Terminal to get to San Francisco, to the Richmond Transit Center to catch a train, or to one of the many community assets that will now be just a short bike ride away,” the mayor added.
According to city officials, the e-bikes are similar to standard bicycles but offer a little boost via an electric motor that enables riders to cover distances with less effort. The e-bike designs are “comfortable and ergonomic,” and feature a spacious basket and a cable lock for security. Safety features include pedal-assisted acceleration, as opposed to a throttle, and a maximum speed of 15 mph while on the Bay Trail. Bolt also offers free helmets to riders who request them.
The e-bikes can be accessed by riders at local transportation hubs (ferry/BART), a system which City officials say aims to prevent e-bikes from cluttering Richmond streets. To use them, riders can download the new “Gotcha Powered by Bolt” app, which is available on the Apple App Store and Google Playstore.
The app integrates with the MTC Clipper Card system, so those without smartphones can also access the e-bikes.
Other options for riders, per city officials, include payment plans and other choices for those without credit or debit cards. Via a 511 Contra Costa sponsorship, the unlock fee for the pay-as-you-go plan will be waived for up to five rides to facilitate program trials, while the Bolt Forward program offers reduced rates to those on government assistance who qualify.
Funding for the bikeshare program has come, in part, from a grant from the Metropolitan Transportation Commission’s Bike Share Capital Grant program that looks to expand bicycle access and bicycle transportation in connection with transit, according to city officials.
Learn more about Bolt here.