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After One Year, Here's How Many Red Bike Rides Have Been Taken in NKY

It was one year ago that Red Bike - the Cincinnati-based nonprofit bike sharing program - expanded into Northern Kentucky. Six stations opened in Covington, followed soon after by four in Newport, and then one in Bellevue (where another is on the way). 

The system is unique in that it spans two states seamlessly, and numbers analyzed by Red Bike and The River City News show that riders are using the bicycles to cross the river both ways, frequently.

"It's clear that folks in Northern Kentucky were excited about Red Bike and they were looking forward to being connected to each other and to downtown (Cincinnati) and to Over-the-Rhine," said Jason Barron, Red Bike's executive director. "People are looking for a way to connect all the great things that are here in Cincinnati. Most people don't see the line between Covington and Newport and Cincinnati. It's just a bridge. Red Bike allows folks to make these connections."

Red Bike stations cost about $50,000 each to install. The program, which now has 50 stations, launched in Cincinnati thanks to substantial support from the city government. In Northern Kentucky, Covington saw much of its costs covered by private donors while Newport and Bellevue used a mix of private funds and government dollars. 

By the numbers

The most popular Red Bike station in Northern Kentucky is at Third & Greenup Streets in front of Roebling Point Books & Coffee, which was the site of the ribbon cutting and news conference when the program started on the south side of the Ohio River. In a year, 3,485 bike have been checked out from the station. It ranks #14 overall in the system, including all of Cincinnati's stations.

Newport on the Levee has two Red Bike stations and they are the second and third most popular in Northern Kentucky. The east station saw 3,228 bikes checked out while the west station saw 1,966 since their opening, ranking #15 and #24 in the Red Bike system, respectively. Combined, though, their 5,194 check-outs would make the Levee the #5 most popular station in the system, ranking ahead of Cincinnati destinations like Washington Park and Findlay Market. 

These three stations - Roebling Point, and the two Levee stops - also see a lot of arrivals from other stations. While precise data on particular routes was not immediately available, the initial numbers show that Roebling Point saw more bikes checked in over the past year than checked out (3,581 checked in). The Levee stations combined for more than 6,000 check-ins. These riverfront stations are close to the system's most popular stations at the Banks and Sawyer Point in Cincinnati.

The Red Bike station at Sixth & Washington Streets in Newport's East Row is the fourth most popular in Northern Kentucky, with 1,956 bikes checked out. It ranks #25, right in the middle, in the overall system.

Mainstrasse Village's station at Sixth & Main Streets saw 1,582 bikes checked out over the past year and ranks #5 in Northern Kentucky and #28 overall.

The station at RiverCenter in Covington near the Northern Kentucky Convention Center was the source of 1,390 check-outs, ranking it #6 in NKY and #30 overall.

Duveneck Square, the station near Braxton Brewing Company at 7th & Washington Streets in Covington, saw 1,174 bikes checked out. It ranks #7 in NKY and #31 overall.

In Bellevue, the station placed at Port Bellevue is the 8th most-used station in NKY and the 32nd most-used in the Red Bike system, with 1,122 check-outs since its opening. Bellevue will soon have a second station at the corner of Fairfield and Ward Avenues, which will give NKY 12 stations in the system.

"I think it's going to be great for restaurants and shops there and for people in Bellevue to get downtown to Mainstrasse, the Levee, and even (the University of Cincinnati) campus," Barron said. 

The three least-used stations are near the Gateway Community & Technical College Urban Center on Scott Boulevard in Covington (804 check-outs, #9 in NKY, #37 overall), the 700 block of Monmouth Street in Newport (661 check-outs, #10 in NKY, #39 overall), and at West Third & Bakewell Streets in Covington (502 check-outs, #11 in NKY, #40 overall).

Most popular trips

The most popular trips on Red Bikes involving Northern Kentucky stations? A round trip from Newport on the Levee east takes the top spot, with 930 bikes checked out and then checked back in at the same spot after a ride. That is also the fourth most popular trip in the entire Red Bike system.

The second most popular trip in NKY is also a round-trip check-out, from Roebling Point and back again, which ranks as the fifth-most popular trip in the overall system (781 such trips have taken place).

A Red Bike ride from Roebling Point across the Roebling Suspension Bridge to the station at the Freedom Center in Cincinnati is the third-most popular trip in NKY and ranks #10 overall. The return ride from the Freedom Center back to Roebling Point is #4 in NKY and #15 overall (542 trips).

A round-trip at the RiverCenter station has taken place 509 times, ranking it #5 in NKY and #18 overall.

Sawyer Point to Newport on the Levee east ranks #6 in NKY and #20 overall, with 498 such rides.

Numbers are a good sign

The Red Bike program in NKY has proven to be a popular addition to the Cincinnati system, even in the winter months, with the bulk of the trips at the three most-used stations, being taken by annual subscribers. Riders can rent a bike for 24 hours (with hourly check-ins at stations) for $8, or purchase an annual pass (with the same check-in requirements) for $80, among other rental opportunities.

"I'm always pleasantly surprised at the numbers," Barron said. "When you set up to project, you want to be conservative so that you are not overly optimistic, but in the back of your mind, you hope that it's really awesome.

"With Red Bike, it's all been really awesome. Northern Kentucky has been no exception."

Written by Michael Monks, editor & publisher

Photo: Covington Mayor Sherry Carran takes the inaugural Red Bike ride in Covington (RCN file)