Wheeling Unveils Bike Share Program
WHEELING — Starting this spring, Wheeling residents will have a new way to exercise and get around town through the first citywide “bike share” program in West Virginia.
The new program, announced by the city on Monday, will allow people to access bicycles at stations near WesBanco Arena thanks to a partnership with The Health Plan.
The program will start out with 10 bike stations at the downtown location and is designed to later expand to other neighborhoods, Wheeling Parks and Recreation Director Jesse Mestrovic said. Users can access the bikes through a smartphone app that charges a “minimal” fee, he said.
“All the money generated will go back into maintenance, so it’s really going to cost the city nothing at all,” Mestrovic said.
The city hopes to launch the program as part of the inaugural Ogden Wellness Weekend, set for May 25-26, Memorial Day weekend. The program will be the first community-wide bike share program in the state, city officials said.
At an announcement event at WesBanco Arena, city officials spoke Monday of the program’s potential to enhance recreation, wellness and tourism in Wheeling.
“It’s going to get people out on the trails, out in the communities and out of their car in ways they might not have taken advantage of,” Mayor Glenn Elliott said.
“It’s very exciting from a city health perspective, from a recreation perspective.”
Mestrovic and Elliott thanked Jim Pennington, president and CEO of The Health Plan, for his support on the project. The company recently started a small bike sharing program for its own employees at its headquarters downtown, Pennington said.
“Adding this to downtown will continue to make the city of Wheeling a leader in health and wellness programs across the state,” Pennington said.
City Manager Robert Herron said the program will encourage people to utilize Wheeling’s trail network.
“We have a great trail system, and having bicycles available for rent enhances health and wellness opportunities in our community,” Herron said.
To unlock the bikes from their stations, residents will have to download an app called Movatic onto their smartphones and register and enter their credit card information.
“To return the bike, the rider will simply roll the bike to the docking station, secure the lock to the rack pin and press the ‘end rental’ button on the app,” Mestrovic explained.
Elliott said he foresees the bike share program expanding to places like Warwood, Elm Grove, Clator and Centre Market.
“We hope interest in the program develops and makes this goal a reality,” he said.
The city also received support for the project from Wheeling Heritage, the Wheeling-Ohio County CVB, Ohio Valley Trail Partners/Bike Wheeling and Project BEST.