EASTHAMPTON – Despite the unpredictable weather this winter season, the ValleyBike Share program will remain open, in a slightly limited capacity.
ValleyBike Share is an electric assist bike program for the Pioneer Valley. The towns and cities that ValleyBike services include Amherst, Easthampton, Holyoke, Northampton, South Hadley, Springfield and the UMass Amherst Campus. Each city owns their own bikes.
This is the first winter that ValleyBike will remain open. Though Springfield’s ValleyBike program is closed, all other cities and towns will be participating in the winter schedule.
A few stations will remain closed due to city regulations. These include: State Street, Eink, Florence Bank, Amherst Town Hall and Jackson Street stations.
“Stations are closed because snow generally gets dumped there. Some stations may change due to ice and pour drainage,” said Shannon Bliven, of community outreach and business development for ValleyBike. “We want to make sure it’s safe to ride bikes,” Bliven added.
The bikes offer transportation and are open during hours that the buses are not running. From 4 a.m. until midnight, people can access these bikes for multi-purposes.
“ValleyBike helps people that work in a vicinity. A lot of people use them for necessities,” stated Bliven.
When a bike is used, employees are able to track it and can see the objective of renting these electric forms of transit. Some may use it for a joy ride, rounds trips, or even to get away for some fun and relaxation. This year especially, COVID-19 has forced people to get out of their homes and ride.
During these winter months, the speed of the bikes will be reduced. Bliven informed that this is done through a GPS/wireless system, that can be set to a lower assist speed. Maximum speed will be brought down to 12 ½ miles per hour, differing from the usual maximum speed of 18 miles per hour.
Maintenance of bikes is crucial, especially during the colder months and the risks brought upon by the pandemic. Bliven said, “With a limited number of bikes, our guys bring them to the shop and replace them with a bike that works. We sanitize bikes and wipe the handlebars to ensure safety.”
Bliven informed Reminder Publishing on how to obtain access to these rides. “ValleyBike has an access pass to keep equitable for everyone. Even at limited capacity, they can have them for transportation,” she stated.
ValleyBike is also offering a winter pass through January. The cost is $35, good for unlimited rides of 45 minutes, over a four month span. “All access pass users, annual members (founding members), can ride through the winter with the pass they currently have,” said Bliven.
Next year, Chicopee and West Springfield will be hopping on board to join the ValleyBike program, resulting in approximately 72 stations, eight towns and cities, and about 740 bikes.
In order to gain access, people can go online or use the ValleyBike mobile app.
For additional information, visit www.valleybike.org.