Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
This page contains more information on questions and issues frequently raised about bike share. Have a question that is not covered? Contact us using the information at right (or below if viewing on a smartphone)
How did bike share come to New Orleans?
After several years of work by bicycle advocates, a feasibility study was commissioned by the City and the New Orleans Regional Planning Commission (RPC) in late 2014 to understand the opportunity and models for bike share in the city. Following the results of that study and subsequent review, the City released a Request for Proposals (RFP) in April 2016 for a privately owned and operated system. Social Bicycles, Inc. (SoBi ) led the team that was selected as the best proposal and they have completed a 5-year agreement, which was ratified by the City Council on November 3, 2016.
What about the bikes?
SoBi bicycles are designed to be theft and tamper proof. Their technology is unique in that they use a smart bike, which has integrated a computer, GPS and locking device right on the bicycle. This not only allows for lots of data collection and theft protection, but also allows users to track the stats (time, distance and route) of all their rides. Other great features include:
- Front and rear lights turn on automatically once unlocked
- Chainless! Using a belt drive, never worry about popping a chain or getting your clothes chewed up!
- 8-speed internal hub
- Durable, integrated front basket
SoBi bikes also offer two unique features:
- Out-of-Hub Locking: This feature allows users to end their trip outside of a hub/station for a nominal fee but also allows users to return an out-of-hub/station bike back to a hub/station for a credit/bonus.
Out-of-hub locking also allows you to leave the bicylce secured to a rack or pole should you have any maintenance issues, such as a flat tire. Press the Help button and walk over to the closest station to grab another bike and keep on riding.
- Holds: This feature allows users to securely temporarily lock their rented bike and keep it reserved under their account so they can run an errand and ensure that bicycle is there when they are ready.
Where will bike share stations be located?
The initial phase will launch with 70 stations and 700 bicycles, with a guaranteed minimum future expansion to 90 stations and 900 bicycles, providing a large coverage opportunity. If the program is successful, there could be even greater expansion.
Check out "Station Siting" link on the menu at left or click here.
When can I start riding?
The target launch is Fall 2017. Special events and demonstrations will be set up prior to launch, so check back often for updates.
How much will it cost?
Fees for bike rental are set at:
- Monthly Pass: $15 for unlimited trips up to 1 hour of riding a day (hourly rate thereafter).
You can take as many trips as desired that all together add up to 60 mintues. For example: a 15 minute ride to work in the morning; a 5 minute ride for lunch; a 30 minute ride home with a quick stop to pick up some food = 50 minutes for the day
- Low-Income Pass: $1.67 per month ($20 per year) for unlimited trips up to 1 hour of riding a day (hourly rate thereafter)
- Pay-as-you-go: $8 per hour of riding (pro-rated)
Additional packages, such as employer or university passes, will also be considered in the future.
In addition, the low income program will allow any residents to participate with or without credit card so that we can ensure the 12.5% unbanked (and 25.5% underbanked) members of our community have every opportunity to participate. Details on the low income program will be added as it developed.
Who’s paying for this?
The New Orleans bike share program is being entirely supported by private dollars. Sponsorships, advertisements, and rental fees will generate the revenue for the program. SoBi assumes all the financial risk to build, operate, and maintain the system. In exchange, the City of New Orleans has agreed to provide use of the public right-of-way (streets and sidewalks) for stations, where appropriate, and assist with planning, permitting, and community engagement.
For-profit vendor model has historic precedent and is a win-win for residents. Bike share is a transit system. Yes, it will be provided by a private entity, but the service is still public and works very differently than rental. It is also worth recalling our beloved streetcars were all originally built and operated by private companies and only municipalized once labor costs and automobile adoption made service unable to break even. By using a 100% privately financed model, the SoBi assumes financial risk for its performance – this is a great thing. This means all of the incentive for great customer service, excellent maintenance and marketing to attract users all falls on them. Given the city’s limited resources for a major capital investment and ongoing costs, this structure is a great example of true public-private partnership for public benefit.
Is this really for residents?
Yes! In major tourist cities the world over, bike share does not compromise benefits to residents. Like any good transit system, if it is designed for residents, tourists will use as well. If it is design for tourists, only they will use it. The City will ensure the system is designed for residents through two means: 1) station location process and 2) the pricing plans. For station location process click here. On the later, a higher cost $8 per hour plan subsidizes the significantly lower cost $15 per month plan and $1.67 per month low income plan.
From a purely economic perspective, at $8 per hour, longer bike trips for touring or recreation will still make more sense on a rented or personal bike. In addition, the monthly passes are limited to 60 minutes of pedal time, which is a lot if you just think about it as transportation, but not very much if you plan on sightseeing. Bike share a one-way transportation system meant to get you from station A to station B and the pricing reflects that.
How does bike share affect bike rental businesses?
Bike share is a fundamentally different service than bike rental. Bike share is a transportation system that is designed and priced for shorter one-way trips. For longer rides, whether for touring or recreation, a bike rental or personal bike makes more sense. Most bike rental shops typically have packages for 4, 8 ,24 and even 48 hours. At $8 per hour bike share quickly becomes the more expensive option. In the case of many rental companies, bike share can be a way for customers, primarily tourists, to more easily get between a rental shop and their hotel.
Further, bike share attracts more people to biking in general, which leads to more bike usage. This means more people buying and renting bicycles benefiting all local businesses.