Neighborhoods

CHICOPEE – Just before he cut the ribbon to the city’s first bike-sharing program, Mayor John L. Vieau offered one piece of advice.

A ribbon cutting ceremony was held for the new ValleyBike Share station at Chicopee City Hall. © Don Treeger | dtreeger/@repub.com A ribbon cutting ceremony was held for the new ValleyBike Share station at Chicopee City Hall.

“I don’t have much else to say but Ride On,” he said before counting down and then ceremonially and opening the new ValleyBike docking station that opened on Front Street across from City Hall this month.

Nathan Moreau, associate planner for Chicopee, takes a test ride during the ribbon cutting ceremony for the new ValleyBike Share station at Chicopee City Hall. © Don Treeger | dtreeger/@repub.com Nathan Moreau, associate planner for Chicopee, takes a test ride during the ribbon cutting ceremony for the new ValleyBike Share station at Chicopee City Hall.

The city joins multiple Western Massachusetts municipalities such as Easthampton, Northampton and Amherst and in starting the ValleyBike bike-sharing program. Its addition provides an important link to Springfield, Holyoke and South Hadley which all have had bike kiosks for at least two years and have recently added more.

Associate City Planner Nathan Moreau started developing plans to join the bike-sharing program more than a year ago, but the COVID-19 pandemic caused some holdups. Other delays were caused by the construction of the new parking lot at City Hall, which had to be complete because the docking station was placed in what was a former small parking area for the municipal building.

A ribbon cutting ceremony was held for the new ValleyBike Share station at Chicopee City Hall. © Don Treeger | dtreeger/@repub.com A ribbon cutting ceremony was held for the new ValleyBike Share station at Chicopee City Hall.

“I urge everyone to come down and take a ride,” Vieau said. “We are hopeful it continues to grow because I think that bike traffic is the way of the future and Chicopee is proud to be part of it,” Vieau said.

People can rent the bikes through a cell phone app or online through valleybike.org, where there are instructions on how to take out a bike and return it. Rates range from $2 for 30 minutes to $90 a year to take unlimited rides of up to 60 minutes.

ValleyBike also offers discounts and free memberships for people who are low-income or disabled and receive assistance through programs such as MassHealth, WIC, Section 8 housing or food stamps. People can also get those memberships on the website, said Shannon Bliven, community outreach director.

The bikes have to be peddled but have an electrical assist to help people get up hills. They are comfortable and have seat adjustments, said Vieau who had previously tried one out on the Granby Street hill.

The bikes are mostly designed for short rides and if they are not checked into a docking station within a half-hour or hour, people can face an additional 15 cents a minute late fee, said Sophie Copley, marketing assistant.

Because of that, the city placed the docking areas in key spots of Rivers Park and near the former Uniroyal property. It is ideal for someone from either neighborhood to use the bikes to get to City Hall or downtown Chicopee, especially since there is a new bike path that can be easily be accessed to the Rivers Park docking station and ends shortly before downtown.

Chicopee Mayor John Vieau cuts the ribbon during a ceremony for the new ValleyBike Share station at Chicopee City Hall. © Don Treeger | dtreeger/@repub.com Chicopee Mayor John Vieau cuts the ribbon during a ceremony for the new ValleyBike Share station at Chicopee City Hall.

The second one near the Uniroyal property is also near a gravel bike and walking path that runs along the Chicopee River and ends at City Hall.

It is a great way for people who don’t have a car to get to work, to do errands or get to appointments. It is also good for people who do have a car, but choose to bike to work on some days, Bliven said.

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Source : https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/us/chicopee-adds-bike-sharing-program-to-3-neighborhoods/ar-AAPU9zs

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