Free bike share for transit users

By Logan Dredske

Increasing bike share usage and improving first- and last-mile connections are the goals of Healthy Ride, Pittsburgh’s updated bike share program. It is receiving an update thanks to its partnership with Port Authority, the city’s transit authority. Healthy Ride 2.0 lets users utilize their transit card to access free, unlimited bike share.

To take advantage of the new Healthy Ride 2.0, users must have a Port Authority ConnectCard transit pass. Because ConnectCards can be purchased and refilled with cash, those without a credit card can still use HealthyRide 2.0. Users must then sync their ConnectCard to a Healthy Ride account, which can be done at any bike share kiosk. If users did not previously have a Healthy Ride account, they can create one at the kiosk without having to attach a method of payment such as a credit or debit card. Once the card is synced to the account, users can simply scan the card at a bike share kiosk to receive free and unlimited 15-minute rides. If users go over the 15-minute limit, they will be charged $2 per 30 minutes via a credit or debit card linked to their Healthy Ride account. If users go over and do not have a credit or debit card linked to their account, their Healthy Ride account will be locked until they connect a card for payment.

David White, Executive Director of Healthy Ride, believes the new program will help to overcome barriers to using bike share. “I think there’s a couple of big hurdles that are holding back more widespread adoption of bike share. First, someone has to have a credit or debit card and be willing to link it to the system. Second, bike share systems aren’t necessarily well-connected to existing public transit.” The new program helps in both areas. White says the new program works to benefit low-income members of the community who do not have access to a credit card, and therefore couldn’t use bike share. For Port Authority, the new program works to combat the issue of first- and last-mile connections.

The new technology needed for Healthy Ride 2.0 has already been installed at all 50 stations. Healthy Ride 2.0 will be tested over a six-month pilot period to learn how many paying riders the program loses compared to new riders it gains. The city is aware of the increased possibility of bike theft without a credit card linked to an account, but they are hoping that their healthy relationship with the community will prevail.

Logan Dredske is a Project Assistant at SSTI.