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City of Northampton Seeks Bids to Reboot ValleyBike By April

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.

The City of Northampton has issued a Request for Proposals for companies that can re-start the Connecticut River Valley's mothballed ValleyBike bikesharing system, with a targeted opening date of April 10th.

ValleyBike is a municipally-owned bikesharing system, similar to the Bluebikes system in greater Boston.

ValleyBike launched in June 2018 with five municipal owners, plus UMass Amherst. A private firm, Bewegen Technologies, handled the day-to-day operations and maintenance of the system, but the municipalities owned the system's 750 electric pedal-assist bikes and 79 docking stations.

The partnership expanded to three more cities and towns in in 2019, and had been contemplating an expansion into the City of Westfield when Bewegen went bankrupt in early 2023.

That left the region without any bikesharing services for all of 2023, and the system's bikes and docking stations have been stowed away in a warehouse for the past year.

At the end of December, the City of Northampton issued a formal Request for Proposals (RFP) to select a new operator "who can maintain, develop, and enhance the ValleyBike Share program restarting in the spring of 2024 and beyond."

The bid documents propose a three-year contract with a "roll out of operations to begin no later than April 10 and be completed by April 30."

The RFP adds that the operator will make bikes available "for three
seasons, at a minimum from April 15th through November 25th of each year" and that "longer seasons are desirable when weather and station locations allow."

Bid proposals are due by January 31st.

During its relatively brief existence, ValleyBike ridership increased from just under 80,000 trips in 2019 to over 100,000 trips in 2021 and 2022. The system was particularly popular in Amherst and its university campus, which together generated 40,849 bike trips in 2022.

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