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Orlando Sentinel: Bike-share Program To Open In Downtown Orlando This Weekend

os-os-bike-share-downtown012-jpg-20141231Peter Martinez has worked 2-1/2 years to launch a bike-share business in downtown Orlando, but spotty weather pushed back his soft opening to this weekend.

“It’s all coming together,” said Martinez, who had intended to have at least a few bikes on the ground by New Year’s Eve.

As part of an agreement with Orlando to use city land for free, Martinez was supposed to be operating Wednesday. But city officials gave him a pass because of the rain.

Martinez hopes to take advantage of a nationwide trend of bike-share operations popping up in urban settings. Cities from Tampa to New York City to Washington, D.C., now host bike programs.

The idea is to offer a cheap, fun way to get around town other than a car, bus or taxi. Martinez intends to attract people who live and work downtown, but also tourists and patrons of the SunRail commuter train.

“They can leave the car in the garage,” said Martinez, a Rollins College graduate. “People can basically get up in the morning and ride to work.”

Martinez calls his business Orlando Bike Share, which is affiliated with the Cyclehop company of Miami Beach. The program works like this: You can rent a bike for $5 an hour from a company rack, and then return it to the same rack or another one owned by Orlando Bike Share.

Because Martinez is just getting started, the best way to rent a bike is by going online at OrlandoBikeShare.com and signing up. A monthly fee of $15 gives users an hour per day; $20 a month gets two hours daily.

Users also can download an app from the site to a smartphone to retrieve a bike by typing in a 4-digit code on the cycle’s keypad. That disengages the lock that secures it to the rack.

By Sunday, Martinez said he should have 20 bikes available at four locations: near the Orlando Utilities Commission building on south Orange Avenue; near the fire station on Central Boulevard; by the Farmers Market at Lake Eola on Central; and by the SkyHouse condo on Magnolia Avenue near the Orange County Courthouse.

An official opening is set for Jan. 9 at OUC.

Martinez promises to have 200 bikes at 20 different sites by April. Kiosks should be available then that would allow a $5-per-hour rental with the use of a credit card.

Orlando spokeswoman Heather Fagan said the city “is excited to have another mode of transportation” downtown.

Martinez had hoped to be up and running months ago, but technological problems with the GPS tracking systems needed to locate the bikes delayed the start.

GPS is important because it means renters do not have to return bikes to company racks, like most programs. Instead, the bike could be left anywhere in the city, locked, for instance, to a fence, where it could be picked up by Martinez for a $2 fee.

By: Dan Tracy

[email protected] or 407-420-5444

Copyright © 2015, Orlando Sentinel

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