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Red Bike Plans to Roll Out Program in Covington This Summer

On Monday evening, Jason Barron, executive director of Red Bike, stood before a small crowd at City Hall and outlined the organization’s plan to launch the popular bike share program in Covington.

The initial phase of the project calls for the installation of up to six stations in the northern part of the city. The targeted sites include Roebling Point in front of Roebling Point Books & Coffee; at 6th Street and Scott in front of Gateway Community & Technical College; across the street from the Northern Kentucky Convention Center near the former Behle Street Café; in Mainstrasse in front of Dee Felice; near Duveneck Square and Braxton Brewery at 7th and Washington; and on West 3rd Street near the Holiday Inn and Courtyard by Marriott.

Red Bike, which installed 30 stations in Cincinnati last September and added three more stations north of the river this month, hopes to have a total of 19 more stations in place, including 12 spread out across the Northern Kentucky river cities of Covington, Newport, and Bellevue, before July’s All-Star Game. Since September, Barron says that there have been over 21,500 rides taken on a Red Bike in Cincinnati and that over 4,100 day passes have been sold. Currently, the program boasts 668 annual members.

The docking stations, which typically hold 13-15 bikes, feature a fully automated kiosk that allows riders ages 18 and up to rent a bike for a day ($8) or purchase an annual membership ($80) for unlimited riding privileges, using their credit or debit card. The 3-speed bikes, which weigh 57 pounds, also feature special tires and wheel guards which allow users to better ride in wet conditions, a basket, and a lock should the rider need to park the bike during the rental period.

The total cost to install six stations in Covington, will be between $270,000 and $280,000, according to Barron. Although the City of Cincinnati agreed to cover nearly 60% of the initial cost of their $1.7 million roll out last year, Barron says that the City of Covington’s investment in the project will be much less. According to City Manager Larry Klein, the city will contribute less than 10% to the total project cost and that money, about $25,000, is expected to be taken out of a city infrastructure bond.

In addition to the city’s $25,000 pledge, Red Bike has also received a $20,000 donation from Southbank Partners, a $50,000 donation from John and Sue Topits, and a $150,000 contribution from a private donor who wishes to remain anonymous.

Once the stations are in place and the bikes are on the road, the cost of maintaining and repairing any dock or bicycle is the responsibility of Red Bike, says Barron. The organization is also responsible for moving bikes around to fill docks that are short on bikes, an important service in a region that hosts many festivals and events. In addition to maintenance and service, the non-profit organization also carries a $2 million dollar insurance policy and a $5 million umbrella policy similar to the ones in place in Cincinnati, which will list the City of Covington as an additional insurer.

Barron says that the program has been well-received in Cincinnati and that Red Bike will do everything they can to help make the program a success in Covington and the other river cities.

“We’ll do what we can to make sure everything is taken care of. We’re trying to be a good public partner. So far, we’ve had really tremendous feedback.”

- Story and photo by Jerod Theobald, managing editor