Dayton getting new e-bike fleet to go faster, farther

Laura Estandia, executive director of Bike Miami Valley, shows off one of Link Dayton Bike Share’s new electric bikes. eLink, the new electric-assisted bikes, will debut this spring. CORNELIUS FROLIK / STAFF
Laura Estandia, executive director of Bike Miami Valley, shows off one of Link Dayton Bike Share’s new electric bikes. eLink, the new electric-assisted bikes, will debut this spring. CORNELIUS FROLIK / STAFF

A zippy new way to get around Dayton launches this spring when the same group that brought bike share to the city releases its next-generation mode of transport: e-bikes.

Link Dayton Bike Share in coming months expects to roll out 100 new electric bicycles (e-bikes) that require a lot less effort from riders to reach faster speeds, climb hills and travel longer distances.

Link will continue to rent out its 225 traditional green pedal bikes, but they will be retrofitted as the bike-share program switches to a new system that is entirely app based.

Link will replace its 27 bike docking stations with new bike racks (hubs) and plans to expand its network with new hub locations.

Link will temporally close on March 22 to prepare for the launch of the e-assist bikes, which are powered by the company Drop Mobility.

"We just want people to know that e-bikes are coming, they're tons of fun and just follow us for all the details on how to use them," said Laura Estandia, executive director of Bike Miami Valley, which is one of Link's co-operators.

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Link started renting out green pedal bicycles in Dayton in May 2015.

The organization started with 24 bike docking stations but grew the network to 27 stations the following year.

Since launching, Link riders have taken more than 140,000 trips, and the system has served more than 19,000 unique users.

This spring, Link will introduce new electric-assisted bikes, called eLink.

The white e-bikes will have batteries that can last about 30 to 35 miles per charge and that tap out at 15 mph of motorized assistance.

On e-bikes, riders almost certainly will be willing to take longer trips than on standard Link pedal bicycles, since it takes less energy and work with the electric boost, Estandia said.

Estandia said she expects the bikes will lead to greater use of outer ring bike hubs. Many of the stations are in and around downtown.

But Link has stations as far north as the Grafton Hill neighborhood and as far south as Brown Street near the Pine Club and Ben & Jerry’s, close to the Oakwood border.

To the west, Wright Dunbar Business District has a station. The easternmost station is in St. Anne’s Hill.

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Link plans to switch out its stations with new bike racks, as it changes vendors to Canada-based Drop Mobility.

The organization also plans to add new hubs this summer. The last day to get a Link trip on the existing system will be March 21.

Link’s current system allows people to rent out bikes at the docking stations using a credit card.

Very soon, Link will be completely app based.

Using a mobile-phone app, customers will scan a code on the bikes or manually punch in the number to unlock their rides.

Standard bikes and e-bikes will have to be locked to the bike racks. eLink bikes have a wheel and cable lock.

The check-in process will require locking in the cable.

Customers also will be able to purchase walk-up passes and memberships, possibly for 90 days or 12-month periods.

Current annual and monthly Link bike share memberships will transfer to the new system, when it launches this spring.

Estandia said she expects to see increased ridership after the e-bikes debut, because they are a convenient way to travel to meetings, appointments or grab a drink or bite to eat.

“It’s just like riding a bike, except you have this little booster that helps you,” Estandia said.

Dayton already has electric scooters, which arrived in August and were an instant hit.

Weeks after Spin electric scooters hit Dayton's roadways, the company doubled its local fleet. The e-scooters, which can go as fast as 15 mph, are on a temporary hiatus, but they are expected to return soon.

Dayton’s transportation options have been evolving.

Other semi-recent additions include ride-hailing companies Uber and Lyft, which launched in late 2014 and 2016, respectively.

In 2018, the Greater Dayton Regional Transit Authority started a free downtown shuttle service called the Flyer.

MORE: Free downtown Dayton shuttle doubling initial target for riders