Hastings residents and visitors are about to have another choice when it comes to getting around town.
The city will roll out a $10,000 bicycle-sharing experiment this fall, officials said. The goal is for people to take advantage of the city's extensive trail system.
It's a partnership with the United Way of Hastings and A Healthier Hastings 4 All (AHHA), a community health initiative of Regina Hospital,
Lisa Damon, a supervisor for AHHA, said the launch of the program, originally set for August, was postponed to give organizers more time to hammer out a few logistical kinks.
Chiefly, organizers are waiting for the go-ahead from state transportation officials before settling on a final location for a first docking-station.
Officially called Bike Share for the City of Hastings, the program will start with 10 bicycles and a single docking-station in a newly built downtown plaza in the shadow of the Hwy. 61 bridge.
Lee Stoffel, the city's communications coordinator, said that the city must first obtain a permit from the state to modify the new plaza under the bridge, "because right now it's still under their control."
"We think it's worth the wait to work through this, because we think it's such a great location," she said.
Stoffel said the program could expand somewhere down the line, depending on how much demand exists.
Massachusetts-based Zagster, which runs similar bike-sharing programs on university and corporate campuses across the country, will operate the service for a year, after which time it will be re-evaluated.
Officials said they hope the system will eventually become self-sustaining.
The program will be free for residents and visitors who download a smartphone app, through which officials will track its progress.
Riders will use the app to check out the bikes for unlimited uses within an as-yet-undetermined fixed period of time. Each bike will come with a lock. At the end of the allotted time, the bikes must be returned to the docking station.
If the experiment is successful, officials said, it could be extended beyond its one-year trial run, and spread to other locations around the city.
"A lot of people don't have bicycles or they don't have a place to store bicycles," Damon said.
"We don't have the luxury of a public transportation system: we don't have a bus system or light rail," she said. "This is going to be a nice perk for the community."