Alabama Power Foundation joins partnership supporting Birmingham Bikeshare

Alabama Power Foundation joins partnership supporting Birmingham Bikeshare

Birmingham will join progressive cities around the country this fall in launching a public bikeshare program, with support from the Alabama Power Foundation.

Community leaders and area residents recently enjoyed their first, close-up look at the bicycle that will be part of the system, which is slated to launch in September. The Alabama Power Foundation, Regions Bank, and Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Alabama are among the key supporters of the initiative.

City boosters say the bikeshare system will help drive further economic growth downtown, provide recreational and health benefits for area workers and residents, and add a new attraction for downtown visitors and tourists.

The 400-bicycle system will include 100 electric-assist bikes – the first system in the nation to incorporate “pedelec” bikes. The 40 bikeshare stations to be installed around Birmingham’s downtown and Southside neighborhoods will be powered with the aid of solar panels.

Bobbie Knight, Alabama Power’s vice president for its Birmingham Division and a member of the board of the Alabama Power Foundation, told those gathered for the bicycle’s unveiling that the bikeshare program fits well with one of the foundation’s missions: to help improve Alabama communities and the quality of life for Alabamians.

She noted that Alabama Power Company is exploring ways to expand the use of renewable energy, where it makes sense for customers. Using solar panels to power the electric-assist bicycles and bikeshare stations represents an innovative application of solar technology, she said.

Alabama Power Company is a longtime supporter of electric transportation (ET) and has worked to educate customers about ET options, including plug-in electric vehicles for both on-road and off-road applications.

Other supporters of the bikeshare initiative include the Regional Planning Commission of Greater Birmingham, the Community Foundation of Greater Birmingham, the Birmingham-Jefferson County Transit Authority and the City of Birmingham.

“This is going to be the most innovative system in the Western Hemisphere, so it’s only natural we’re bringing it to Birmingham, a city on the move forward,” Birmingham Mayor William Bell Sr., said in a news release. “This is a true public-private partnership that will benefit our citizens and our visitors.”

David Fleming, CEO of REV Birmingham, the organization dedicated to economic development and the revitalization of the city, also praised the coordinated effort that led to making bikeshare a reality. REV will serve as operator of the bikeshare system.

Individuals will be able to purchase memberships in the bikeshare program and use their smartphones to check out bikes. Visitors and non-members will be able to use a credit card to check out the bicycles. Details on membership and hourly pricing are still being finalized.

Alain Ayotte, CEO of Bewegen Technologies Inc., the Canadian company that is manufacturing the bikes and bike stations for Birmingham, as well as supplying the related technology, said he is thrilled to be playing a part in the city’s ongoing renaissance. Bewegen has pledged to build the bikeshare stations in Alabama, using local suppliers.

Learn more about Birmingham’s bikeshare initiative.

This post was originally published on Alabama NewsCenter.