Chelsea Schneider, Municipal Innovations Specialist
Aurora and Lawrenceburg are teaming up to launch an innovative bike share program that’s the first-of-its-kind in southeast Indiana.
The River Cities Bike Share Program will offer bicycle rentals at three locations in the neighboring communities, including at a rental shelter next to a popular trail and dog park following the Ohio River that connects the cities of Aurora and Lawrenceburg. City officials hope the model, which doesn’t require a costly, long-term lease for the bikes, can be replicated by smaller cities and towns across the state.
“How neat is it for two cities to partner up for something like this,” Aurora Mayor Donnie Hastings said, “and if we can do this, what prohibits us from partnering up on other things we’ll be able to do together to save money.”
Even the program’s logo pays homage to the partnership, featuring Aurora’s iconic church spires, Lawrenceburg’s levy and the Ohio River.
“Hopefully we’ll see these white bicycles rolling all over Aurora and Lawrenceburg all summer long,” Hastings said.
The bicycles come with multiple features, including Shimano 7-speed internal gearing, puncture resistant tires and fenders, and a rear basket. The gear from Dynamic Bicycles, Inc., also comes with an integrated U-Lock and custom logo decals, as well as a rider app for iOS and Android phones and cloud-based administration software. The billing system includes credit payment, processing and settlement.
Shelters on site provide asset management for the bikes, as well as an anchor for info boards.
“As for maintenance, the revenue made off the bike share and ongoing sponsorships are expected to keep the program going without having to tap into city funds. Reinvestment of funds will also be used to maintain the inventory, expansion of the River Cities Bike Share Program inventory and promotional events,” said Guinevere Emery, city manager for Aurora.
“We were able to roll our bike-share program out at a lower cost than if we would have had to rent the bikes annually. We were trying to set up a sustainable program where we don’t have to go back to the parks board or city council for funding,” Emery said.
Initial funding was provided by the cities of Aurora and Lawrenceburg, the Rising Sun Regional Foundation, Dearborn Community Foundation, Dearborn County Convention Visitors Bureau of Tourism and the Aurora Lions.
Riders will check out a bike through the mobile application where they’ll pay a rental fee of $3 for the first hour and $2 for each additional hour. Along with the Dearborn Trail location, rental bikes are available in Downtown Aurora and Downtown Lawrenceburg near the Ivy Tech College Riverfront campus and the Lawrenceburg Event Center. Each bike rental location features consumer parking and zero additional infrastructure for utilities.
Along with the recreational benefits, the program also will serve as an economic tool for the two communities, city officials said.
“The River Cities Bike Share Program highlights downtown revitalization, neighborhood revitalization, tourism/outdoor recreation, riverfront development and quality of life and community connections. The program serves as another connection among the communities’ amenities. Currently in the area, five cities have trail pedestrian/bicycle projects either in planning or construction within the next five years,” Emery said.
City officials hope by attracting more riders, bike-share participants will visit local restaurants and businesses.
“It’s just another tool for our community,” said Bryan Messmore, city coordinator for Lawrenceburg. “For people to come down and enjoy the city; to travel along the river side and have a good time.”