Little Rock plans to roll out later this year a new way for residents to get around the city, with negotiations to provide a bicycle-sharing program underway.
Once a contract with mobility company Gotcha is finalized, Arkansas' capital city will have about 200 bikes dropped at various hubs around town. Users will be able to access the bikes and pay for rides through a mobile app.
Across the river, North Little Rock has inked a contract with the same company, so riders will be able to travel between the two cities -- for instance, picking up a bike at a hub in Little Rock and dropping it off in North Little Rock.
Gotcha's bikes feature a pedal-assist, electric power boost that deploys automatically to help riders up hills, as well as automatic lights.
Hub locations in Little Rock have not been determined. Kendra Pruitt, senior adviser to Mayor Frank Scott Jr., said bikes would be placed throughout the city, including in areas that allow riders to take advantage of the downtown and Arkansas River Trail areas.
She said the city is aiming for a late summer or early fall rollout.
Gotcha's pricing structure charges riders $2 to unlock the bikes, then 10 cents per minute. The company also offers membership plans of about $10 per month or $80 per year, as well as a $5 annual plan for low-income users.
In November, the city issued a request for proposals for a bike-share service provider. Pruitt said the city received applications from several mobility providers, but Gotcha ended up being the only one that met all of Little Rock's requirements.
"I believe the mayor is absolutely dedicated to providing alternative methods of transportation in our city. In addition to that, we want to make those alternative methods as fun and accessible as possible," Pruitt said. "They seem to be very modern and progressive, and we're excited to have them in our city."
In addition to e-bikes, Gotcha offers two-wheeled scooters, Vespa-like "trikes," and a ride service with electric cars.
Currently, dockless Lime e-scooters are the only shared mobility devices on Little Rock streets. Little Rock's memorandum of understanding with Lime, which began its pilot program in the city in January, ends in mid-September.
The company has devices in cities across the country, mostly in the eastern half of the United States. Gotcha recently started bike-share programs in midsize cities, including Syracuse, N.Y.; Baton Rouge; and Norman, Okla.
City officials are drafting an e-scooter ordinance that will govern where the devices can be ridden. Currently, they are allowed on sidewalks, though most other cities keep them on streets.
Once e-scooter legislation is in place, the city plans to issue a request for qualifications for providers. Pruitt said Little Rock "would welcome as many scooter vendors that meet our qualifications."
North Little Rock is still ironing out sites for Gotcha bike hubs and is planning a summer debut, said Robert Birch, special assistant to Mayor Joe Smith.
The smaller city plans to have about 100 bikes spread over 12-15 hubs in every ward. Birch said the city coordinated with Rock Region Metro to target "last mile" locations -- for instance, a hub that could allow someone to ride a bike a mile from a bus stop to a shopping center.
Though Birch said the two cities aren't coordinating their start dates, using the same type of bikes both north and south of the river will "really maximize both sides for everyone."
Metro on 07/12/2019
Print Headline: Users would pay on app per ride under bike plan set for Little Rock, North Little Rock