New e-bikes hit Dayton’s streets

Link Dayton Bike Share has done a soft launch of its new bike system. Bikes are available to rent all across Dayton. CORNELIUS FROLIK / STAFF
Link Dayton Bike Share has done a soft launch of its new bike system. Bikes are available to rent all across Dayton. CORNELIUS FROLIK / STAFF

Link Dayton Bike Share had a soft launch of its new system on Tuesday that has let people try out new electric-assisted bikes that have taken other cities by storm.

Link in late March shut down and eventually removed its network of bike-sharing docking stations to make way for new bike racks, or hubs, that are compatible with its new system.

Link has switched over to an app-based system that allows riders to use their mobile phones to unlock traditional pedal bikes and new eLink bikes, which provide an electric boost.

“It’s good to be back out there,” said Laura Estandia, executive director of Bike Miami Valley, which is one of Link’s co-operators. “We want people to be safe but also have a lot of fun.”

MORE: E-bikes are coming soon to Dayton. Here’s when they hit the streets.

Link said it did a soft launch this week to help work out any bugs in the new system.

The official and full launch is expected to occur over the Fourth of July weekend.

Link also said it wants to gather rider feedback about the changes, to find out if there’s anything it can do to make the experience more enjoyable or useful.

“We want to make sure the messaging is clear, because it is a new process for everybody,” Estandia said.

Link has distributed about 100 traditional green pedal bikes around the city, as well as about 40 eLink bikes.

Link’s new system will continue to use its fleet of 225 green pedal bikes, but it adds 100 new e-bikes.

New hubs have been installed at the sites of the 27 former docking stations around the city. The bike racks will be where people park and lock and unlock the pedal bikes and eLink bikes.

Previously, riders unlocked Link bikes from stations by swiping their credit cards or membership cards.

Now, riders will unlock bikes using the Link Dayton Bike Share app, which people can download on their phones.

Hundreds of people already have downloaded the app, and Link’s new system had its very first trip at 6:30 a.m. Tuesday.

The green bikes were retrofitted with a locking mechanism that lets riders wrap a cable around a fixed site, like the hubs.

Users will scan a QR code with their mobile phones to unlock the cables. When finished riding, users will tie the cable to a bike hub and take a photo of the bike and hit submit on the app.

eLink bikes will cost 15 cents per minute to ride, or 10 cents per minute for people who have Link memberships. It costs $1 to unlock the bikes for pay-as-you-go rides.

Green pedal bikes will cost 10 cents per minute, but Link members get 80 minutes of free pedal bike riding each day.

People can check out up to four bikes using their app for group trips, and people can try out the eLink bikes using a promo code 15LAUNCH in the app.

In the near future, Link expects to announce new hub locations around the city.

Riders are encouraged to wash their hands after using the bikes or wear gloves as a precaution while the COVID-19 threat remains.