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Bike Share Program Launches in Downtown Wheeling

Bicycles available for rides through Wheeling’s new bike share program stand at a solar-powered docking station are shown at Heritage Port on Monday.

Ten bicycles stationed at Heritage Port in Downtown Wheeling are ready to ride as part of the city’s newly-launched bike share program.

The program, which opened Friday afternoon, allows anyone to access a bicycle on a short-term basis for a small fee via a smartphone app, according to the city. The bikes are located alongside Heritage Trail near the entrance to WesBanco Arena.

“These bikes are designed for leisure riding by adults and are considered a shared asset amongst the community,î” said Jesse Mestrovic, Wheeling Parks and Recreation director.

The bike share, which officials said is the first of its kind in West Virginia, was made possible through a partnership with The Health Plan. The company sponsored the program’s launch, and fees collected from the bike rentals will go toward maintaining the program, Mestrovic said.

“We are excited to see this project finally come to fruition,î” said Jim Pennington, president and CEO of The Health Plan. “Sponsoring the first community bike share of its kind in West Virginia, we are proud to help set a good example for how communities across the state can encourage healthier living and outdoor recreation.”

To check out a bike from the solar-powered stand, riders must download the app “Movatic” onto a smartphone and follow the instructions in the app and on signage posted at the site. Location services and Bluetooth on the phone must be enabled for the system to work, Mestrovic said.

The app, which requires credit card information, will then unlock the bike from the station. Bike rentals cost $2 per hour.

“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,”î Mestrovic said.

City officials first announced plans to launch the program in February, citing the success of a bike share program The Health Plan ran for its own employees at its downtown headquarters.

Mayor Glenn Elliott commented that the bike sharing will benefit residents and visitors alike.

“We have a great trail system, and having bicycles available for rent enhances health and wellness opportunities in our community for residents and those visiting our great city,î” Elliott said. “The Health Plan is the perfect title sponsor for this program and I am very appreciative of Mr. Pennington’s support of this project.”

The program will also improve the city’s Heritage Trail network by providing more access to it, Mestrovic said.

“This new health and wellness initiative enhances one of the greatest assets we have in Wheeling, the Heritage Trail network,” he said. “It gets more people active while simultaneously getting more people on bikes more often. Wheeling has a great biking community and it provides additional opportunities for people to enjoy our wonderful trails.”

Mestrovic added that he hopes to eventually add more bike stations in other locations in the city, such as Warwood, Elm Grove, Clator and Centre Market.

The project also received support from the Wheeling-Ohio County Convention and Visitors Bureau, Wheeling Heritage, Ohio Valley Trail Partners, Bike Wheeling and Project BEST.

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