Bike Walk Tompkins and community partners are currently examining all the proposals for dockless bikesharing in Ithaca that we received in December 2017 as part of our Blueprint for Better Bicycling project. Here's what this new transportation option will bring to all of Ithaca.

The bikeshare advisory group will make a decision by March, for a launch by the time of the next Streets Alive! Ithaca. For questions or comments, contact Hector Chang at hector@bikewalktompkins.org or (607) 301-3181.

For more details about the process, check out the Bikeshare in Ithaca Request for Information (RFI) we released in 2017, available here.

Dockless Bikeshare One-Pager

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Who runs the bikeshare?

A: The bikeshare will be operated by a private company with locally hired staff. Currently a number of bikeshare companies are interested in coming to Ithaca, NY. A bikeshare advisory group is studying their proposals and will decide soon which company is the best fit for our community.

Q: How do I contact the bikeshare operator?

Once the bikeshare operator is up and running, they will have a contact number, email, and website to reach them for any information or concerns you might need or have.

Q: How will the bikeshare system work?

We are looking at dockless bikeshare operators that provide bikes that can be parked anywhere public bicycle parking is allowed. Bikes can be taken on one-way trips and you do not have to return them where you found them. The bikes can be borrowed easily by downloading an app to your smartphone and scanning a QR code on the back of each bicycle. Bikes can be borrowed at $1 per ride, with discounts available for low-income and university-affiliated community members. More details are available on our one-page info sheet (PDF).

Q: What is a dockless bike?

Older-generation bikeshare systems, such as Citibike in New York City, rely on special parking racks called "docks" to ensure that bikes can only be borrowed by registered users. The docks are expensive and users are limited to go to places where docks exist. Dockless bikeshares use a smartphone app for registration, and can be parked anywhere public bicycle parking is allowed because the locking mechanism is on the bike itself. When not in use, the rear wheel is locked. The bikes also have GPS and cellular connections integrated so that both the bikeshare operator and users can find bikes near them.

Q: Does the bikeshare operator have to abide by any rules?

The bikeshare operator and its users have to follow the bicycling rules and laws of the City of Ithaca and university partners. The City will also have control over the size of the bikeshare fleet and where bicycles can go. The bike share company has to answer to the City for any concerns.

Q: What is Bike Walk Tompkins' role in the bikeshare?

Bike Walk Tompkins does not run the bikeshare system, but we have facilitated bringing it to Ithaca. Based on experiences in other cities, we know that having a larger bikeshare in our area will help biking become a more reliable form of transportation here. We are working closely with the City of Ithaca, university partners, and bike vendors to set up a truly community-wide bikeshare system for all. See the Bikeshare Request for Information (RFI) that we released in the fall of 2017.

Q: Will helmets be provided with the bikeshare bikes?

The bikeshare operator does not provide helmets with their bikes. Helmets are not required by law in Ithaca and Tompkins County except for cyclists under the age of 14. However, we encourage people to use their own helmet. If you do not have one, you can pick one up at a reasonable price at many of our local bike shops. BWT will also make low-cost helmets available at our office when the bikeshare launches.

Q: Will users know the rules of the road?

The bikeshare operator will have rules of the road and basic biking information in their smartphone app, and first-time users will receive an in-app orientation of the rules. The rules will also be available on their website.

Q: What if the bikes are left in places where they should not be?

While the rear wheel of the bikeshare bicycles are locked, the front wheel can still move. If you see a bike that is poorly parked, the fastest way to fix it is to simply pick it up by the seat and roll it to a more appropriate spot. For stickier situations, anyone can call the bikeshare operator’s 24/7 phone line to report misplaced bicycles. Locally hired staff will take care of it as soon as they are able to.

Q: Is the bikeshare accessible to people who do not have smartphones or bank cards?

The bikeshare operators have created a variety of ways to provide access to the bikeshare bikes without the need for a smartphone or credit/debit card. Once we have selected a company, details on how their system works will be communicated.

Q: Will the bikeshare be available in the winter?

Yes. A smaller fleet of bikeshare bikes will be available during the winter to ensure that this transportation service is available year round.

Q: How can a person driving a vehicle help make the bikeshare (and biking) safe and successful?

Thank you for asking. Stay alert and be patient as you share the road with all users, including people who bike. Slow down first, and if you must pass someone biking, pass with at least 3 feet or more of space.

Q: Is it possible to ride a bikeshare bike up Ithaca’s hills?

Yes. Many of the newest bikeshare bikes have multiple gears and are lighter and more versatile than older docked versions. One of the considerations for the bikes chosen for Ithaca is making sure they can handle hills. Bikes will also be available throughout Ithaca, so you can take transit up or down the hill and finish the trip with a bikeshare bike.