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ValleyBike Bikesharing System Still In Limbo As Municipalities Seek New Operator

A row of docked blue, white, and black ValleyBike shared bikes parked along a paved street under the shade of some leafy trees.

A ValleyBike station on the UMass-Amherst campus. Courtesy of the University of Massachusetts.

ValleyBike, the municipally-owned bikesharing system for the Connecticut River Valley, remains in a financially-induced coma after the firm that operated the system went bankrupt earlier this year.

In an update to the Massachusetts Bike and Pedestrian Advisory Board Wednesday afternoon, Gary Roux, a planner at the Pioneer Valley Planning Commission, said that the municipal owners of the system are “still deciding what’s the process to move forward.”

A map of ValleyBike stations and its service area in 2019, before the system shut down.

In spite of the operator's bankruptcy, Roux revealed that the municipal owners have secured possession of the bikes, which are currently being stored in a local warehouse, and docks.

The City of Northampton has also recovered a $250,000 surety payment that had been set aside as a contingency in the original operating contract in case the operator went out of business.

Northampton city staff are now leading the effort to find a new operator to put those bikes back out on the streets.

Roux reported that the city got six responses from a recent "request for information" from potential operators, and is now preparing a more formal request for proposals.

“It hinges on funding, but there’s an interest," said Roux.  

ValleyBike launched in June 2018 with five municipal owners, plus UMass Amherst. The partnership expanded to three more towns in in 2019.

During its relatively brief existence, ridership increased from just under 80,000 trips in 2019 to over 100,000 trips in 2021 and 2022, with the most ridership in Amherst and its university campus, which generated 40,849 bike trips in 2022.

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