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Western Massachusetts communities working to restart ValleyBike program

An empty ValleyBike docking station in Northampton, Massachusetts, on April 24, 2023.
Alden Bourne
/
NEPM
An empty ValleyBike docking station in Northampton, Massachusetts, on April 24, 2023.

Local officials in western Massachusetts are working to get a bike-sharing program restarted after a long pause.

The Valley Bike program didn't operate this past year because Bewegen, the Canadian company that ran it, entered bankruptcy proceedings.

Carolyn Misch, who oversees sustainability for Northampton, said she recently met with representatives from UMass Amherst and other participating communities.

They are looking for a new company to service the electric-assist bikes the communities already own, relocate them among docking stations, and provide the technology to run the system.

"We think that we're going to be issuing a request for proposals by mid-December with a due date for probably sometime the end of January," Misch said.

The goal is to select an operator by the spring, but it could be a lot longer before the program starts up again.

Misch said another hurdle to restarting ValleyBike is figuring out funding.

"We all recognize that this is a service and a piece of the transportation puzzle that is well used and important for the communities," Misch said. "The leap is trying to find the local resources to pay for that."

Federal grant money paid for the equipment.

In addition to Northampton and UMass, the partnership includes Amherst, Chicopee, Easthampton, Holyoke, South Hadley, Springfield and West Springfield.

Before joining New England Public Media, Alden was a producer for the CBS NEWS program 60 Minutes. In that role, he covered topics ranging from art, music and medicine to business, education and politics.