Link bike share heats up during mild winter. STAFF

Why is use of bike sharing program surging?

What a weird winter it’s been.

Unseasonably warm weather this year has led to strange sights, such as people in short-sleeves and dresses cheerfully drinking on patios in the Oregon Historic District as if it was the dog days of summer.

And this year, ice-skaters at RiverScape Metro Park often had to toss aside their coats and gloves to feel comfortable as they glided around the rink.

And the warm temperatures have boosted outdoor activities that typically see significant drops in participation, if not outright hibernation during the cold months.

For instance, Dayton’s bike sharing program, Link, saw the number of trips riders took in January and February surge 37 percent from the same period last year.

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For those two months, the number of unique Link increased 25 percent to 392.

To be sure, there are some tough-as-nails Daytonians and downtown visitors who are willing to hop on Link bikes regardless of the temperature and windchill and whether the roads are snow-fallen.

Link encourages riders to stay active in the winter by replacing everyday errands on a Link bike or taking a trip for recreation, said Chris Buck of Bike Miami Valley, which helps run the program.

Link recently concluded its “Winter Warrior Challenge II” program that gave out prizes for riders who took the most trips between Dec. 2 and Feb. 24. Fifty participants took 4,049 trips during the challenge, which was up 34 percent from last year.

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No one took more trips than Victor Roberts, who finished the competition with 1,112. It was a new system record, but may be hard to beat if Mother Nature isn’t so timid next winter.

“This winter we had a joke going around the office that we should have named the competition our Spring Warrior Challenge,” Buck said.

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