Cranberry OKs bike share program

People could look forward to riding bikes on area trails, including in Cranberry Township, without bringing their own bicycle, as the Cranberry board of supervisors late last week granted permission for the installation of “bike share” facilities.

Township Manager Eric Heil said the Northwest Pennsylvania Mobility Alliance and the Crawford Area Transportation Authority (CATA) requested use of the Samuel Justus Trail in the Saltbox area for a bike share program, which would begin next year. The plan, though, according to CATA Assistant Executive Director Kristin Hauser, is dependent on funding.

“They will put in a bike rack for four to six bicycles and maintain it,” Heil said. “There is no cost to the township.” The riders are charged a fee of $2.50 an hour of public use, which will be used to offset maintenance costs.

According to a letter from CATA, the bikes “promote health and well being.”

The program can also be a boost for tourism. “If we have an out-of-town visitor who wants to explore the bike trail and they don’t have a bike, they can rent one for $2.50 an hour. That will enhance their stay in the area,” Heil said. “It is all digital and no one has to be there.”

A smartphone app called Poloni is used to unlock the bikes at any of the sites, according to Heil.

This is a multi-phase project in which bike rakes would be installed in various areas. Helmets aren’t provided or required to use the bikes, which are three-speed bikes that automatically switch gears, according to Hauser.

In the first phase of the plan, which would begin in April, the areas to be set up are at the Clifford Street bus stop in Oil City, the Justus Park trailhead in Oil City the marina in Oil City, the Justus Trail Saltbox House in Cranberry and the CATA transfer point on Buffalo Street in Franklin, according to Hauser.

In the second phase, Hauser said, the plan is to set up locations at Drake Well and Oil Creek parks, and “hopefully” another spot in Franklin. The phase II locations have not yet been confirmed.

The program operates seasonally and the bikes are locked down every night, according to Hauser. There is also an emergency/help button if people need assistance when they are on a ride.

The Cranberry supervisors also approved use of the bike trail by the Oil City YMCA for its annual Turkey Trot run and walk.

— Reporter Kara O’Neil and News Editor Luka Krneta contributed to this report.


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