SLC Bike Share bikes
Today was one of the biggest days of Ben Bolte's career.
For years, he's been the driving force to establish a bike share program for Salt Lake City, making high-quality bikes available to locals and visitors to ride from point A to point B in downtown.
Now, after tons of research, fundraising and set up, which he calls the most rewarding, yet nerve-wracking, experience of his life, SLC Bike Share is open to the public. Unlike a bike rental, the program is only for short trips from bike station to bike station and works through memberships ranging from $5 for 24 hours to $75 for a year.
“It's incredibly surreal to launch something like this, when you've worked on every single aspect of it,” Bolte says. “To see people who have no idea who I am using the bikes is the most gratifying experience.”
Ben Bolte discussing SLC Bike Share.
The non-profit bike share became official this morning at a press conference and ribbon cutting, featuring Mayor Ralph Becker, who dubbed 2013 "Year of the Bike." Becker gave a speech saying he wants people coming to Salt Lake City with a car and without a car to get around just as easily, and this program goes a long way to making that possible.
The official ribbon cutting.
Becker also invited more local businesses to sonsor and help open bike stations around town. “The more stations we have, the better it's going to be,” he says. Currently, the bike share has 100 bikes and 10 stations with another station on the way.
Mayor Becker discussing SLC Bike Share.
Jason Mathis, Executive Director of Downtown Alliance, thanked sponsors like Rio Tinto and SelectHealth. “Once we had SelectHealth's backing, we knew this was going to happen,” Mathis says.
SelectHealth CEO Pat Richards says her company jumped on the idea as soon as they heard about it. Mayor Becker invited Rio Tinto to get involved, says Kelly Sanders, CEO of Rio Tinto.
“Only one percent of the population uses cycling as a primary mode of transit,” Bolte says. “You always think you made the right choice and this is absolutly something everybody would do, but you always have that one little part of your mind where it's like 'I made a terrible decision and nobody is going to use it,' but when you see people using it, you think 'Oh, thank God.”
Bolte plans to ride the bikes everyday he can and encourages anyone curious to ask him questions when they see him riding.
SLC Bike Share helmet, free with an annual membership.