MASON CITY | The bike-share program launched in Mason City earlier this year didn’t meet expectations.
That’s what Steve Schurtz, Active Living and Transportation Commission chairman, told the Mason City Council during a presentation last week.
“We had high expectations for this,” he said. “It didn’t yet meet our expectations, but we have hope for next spring.”
The program, which was proposed by the commission in 2017, began in early May, months after anticipated due to a delay in the delivery of the bicycles and problems with the software to operate them.
It’s administered through Koloni, a bike-share company based in Pocahontas, and features 12 bicycles located between bike racks at City Hall, East Park and MacNider Campground for residents and visitors to rent for a fee.
“We’ve had some challenges with this,” Schurtz said. “This has been our biggest challenge, one of our biggest disappointments so far.”
He said the bicycles contain belt drives that were marketed as better than chain drives, but there was “lots of trouble with noise and slippage,” which is something other Iowa cities had problems with, too. The bicycles’ drives have since been replaced with chains.
Mason City, and other communities, continued to experience problems with the bike-share program’s software, but Schurtz said Koloni has assured them they’ve been worked out.
“These bikes were taken back in September to get converted, and they’re still in Ames waiting to be delivered back to us,” he said. “It’ll really be next spring before we can really test them out and make sure they’re functional again.”
An estimate provided by Koloni to the City Council in April 2017 states the cost for 10 bicycles, bike racks, decals and the monthly fee is about $13,425.
Angie Determan, HEALTHY-Mason City community project coordinator and a commission member, said the cost of the program, including the bicycles and concrete pads, was covered by sponsors.
The usage fees from the bike-share program are expected to sustain it, she said.
Additional costs will be covered by the Active Living and Transportation Commission budget.
Because of the software issues, Schurtz said the commission doesn’t have data related to the bike-share program’s usage, but he didn’t expect it to be much due to the challenges it faced this year.
“That was a big disappointment,” he said.
The bike-share program allows participants to use their smartphone to activate the system, unlock a bicycle from a rack, ride it and then return it to the same rack or another rack in the system and lock it.
Those interested in using the bikes need a credit or debit card and must download the Koloni Share app on their smartphone.
Schurtz hopes the program will be in place for usage in the spring.