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Electric-Assisted Bikes May Arrive Soon in White Plains

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Dockless bikes may be making their way back to White Plains streets, two years after LimeBike backpedaled out of the city. 

At a Common Council work session, Thomas Soyk, Deputy Commissioner of the Department of Parking and Traffic, detailed a proposed amendment to the White Plains Municipal Code relating to shared alternative transportation devices.

If approved, the changes would eliminate the initial pilot program as the time limits on the provision have expired, allow the city to accept applications from companies that operate in at least 10 markets with a fleet of 50 or more shared alternative transportation devices and allow any approved operator to maintain an office within 10 miles of city limits. 

“[The bikes] would be electric-assisted up to 15 miles per hour,” Soyk said. “After that point, the assist drops out, and then you’re using pedal power if you want to get faster than that.”

This type of bike has a center kickstand, which Soyk said is advantageous because the bikes that were previously available in White Plains had a side kickstand.

“Occasionally, people would knock them all over like dominos,” Soyk said. “You won’t have that happening with these bikes, and, with less of them here, I think they’ll be less clutter.” 

Fifty dockless bikes are expected to be the starting amount. The cost to ride them would be $1 to unlock the bike and $0.59 per minute after that. 

Mayor Tom Roach says the idea behind the new bikes is that residents will be able to take them on quick trips, such as from the train station to City Hall. 

“They’re going to charge what they think the market will bear, and if people don’t use it, I’m sure they may adjust the pricing,” Roach added.

Because the bikes will be electric-assisted, riders will not have to worry about hills and should be able to get to their distances faster. 

Soyk said that typically rides fall within the eight to 10-minute range, with some being shorter.

Since the bikes are dockless, there will not be any established stations for them. However, if the company contracted determines that there’s a location where many bikes are left, the city could have them create a designated spot to leave them.

“We’re going to see how it goes first in terms of where people want the bikes to and from before we set that up,” Soyk noted.

According to Soyk, the department is already in communication with one interested company, which will likely be submitting an application to the city soon. If they are approved, White Plains will then go into an agreement with them. 

Soyk estimates the process will likely take about two months but said that the interested party wants to get started as quickly as possible. 

Councilman Richard Payne, a former competitive cyclist who was part of the team that helped bring the original dockless bike-share systems to the city in 2018, is excited that the city is looking to bring back bikes.

“I am very pleased the city is welcoming back shared mobility at no cost to the city,” Payne said. “Not only does this bike-share service provide green emission-free transportation, but it also allows us to reduce congestion on our growing city streets. In the current global climate where energy costs are at an all-time high, allowing our residents and visitors an affordable and sustainable way to get around the city safely is a smart decision.”

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