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Newport "Uniquely Positioned" to Benefit from Red Bike Program

About a dozen community leaders and activists got an update on Red Bike's planned arrival in Newport this week.

Jason Barron, executive director of the Cincinnati-based bike sharing program, presented to Mayor Jerry Peluso and City Commissioners Frank Peluso and Beth Fennell, and others on Wednesday evening.

"Newport is uniquely positioned to benefit from this," Barron said. "It really does drive some of that spending and economic development and I think Newport is uniquely positioned for that because the bridges are a long walk and that could be seen as barriers for some folks." He specifically mentioned that downtown Cincinnati residents may be more attracted to taking in a movie at Newport on the Levee if they didn't have to drive and if the lengthy walk was replaced by a pleasant bike ride.

For $8, riders can rent Red Bikes for unlimited 60-minute rides. A bike could be rented from a Red Bike station in Cincinnati and then taken to Newport and checked into one of the forthcoming stations there, and then a bike could be taken from Newport to a Covington station, and then back to Cincinnati.

Newport will have four stations: two at Newport on the Levee, one at the corner of Sixth & Washington Streets, and another on Monmouth Street. Covington will also have six stations and Bellevue is working on landing two. The stations are to be installed by the Major League Baseball All-Star Game which is being played at Great American Ballpark in Cincinnati in July. 

Each station costs roughly $50,000 and the cities have been busy raising funds from private citizens and businesses while keeping the public investment at a minimum. "I think this is really going to benefit Newport, money-wise," said Jason Reser of Reser Bikes on Monmouth Street. "We have a lot of the destinations, we have a decent number of people living here but all the hotels and residents are out in Covington and Cincinnati and really, we have the best destinations without that stuff, so we'll be able to bring those people in."

The stations could be installed in Northern Kentucky as early as June. Additional stations will be placed in Cincinnati, too, where more than 26,000 rides have been taken in the six months of the program's history. Linking Northern Kentucky to Cincinnati will make Red Bike unique nationally as one of the few programs that cross state lines.

Mayor Jerry Peluso was happy to see more citizens at Newport's meeting on Wednesday than he saw at a similar meeting in Covington where that city announced private funding for its six stations. "Newport is the key link," Peluso said. "You have Covington to the west, Bellevue to the east, and Cincinnati to the north, but we have a designated bridge for bike and pedestrian travel. There's no cars. This is an economic tool. We talk about regionalism. This is what this is. It's important we have the programs in these four communities. We feed off each other and it's gonna be successful because of that."

Written by Michael Monks, editor & publisher

Photo: A Red Bike station in Cincinnati's Washington Park (RCN)