Bike sharing

A new bicycle-sharing program is expected to start this month in the city of Clinton. SUBMITTED PHOTO

CLINTON — Thanks to a start-up company out of Iowa State University, Clinton is getting set for a new program that will change the way Clinton residents can view the city's attractions.

Ames-based Cygnet Bike Share is ready to cater its services to the city of Clinton, entering a recent agreement that will deliver approximately 20 bicycles dispersed among several different hubs around Clinton, with area residents soon to be able to rent the bikes and travel the city.

Though a slight delay recently occurred, Clinton Convention and Visitors Bureau Director Mary Seely is still confident that the bikes will be delivered and ready to roll sometime this month.

"We hit a little snag with something to do with a part that (Cygnet) needed to get before delivery, but it was nothing major," Seely said. "The timeline is still on that would allow for the delivery of the bikes still hopefully sometime in September. It's a really quick process as far as set up. It should be maybe only one day between the set up of our docking stations and the first day that the bikes will be ready to use."

The docking stations are to be located at the intersection of Fifth Avenue South and First Street, Eagle Point Park, the Lyons shopping district, the Lyons Business and Technology Park, in front of the Clinton Area Showboat Theatre, and near Joyce Slough by the Clinton Marina.

The conversations between Cygnet and Seely began much earlier in the year, planning a program that would most benefit city residents.

"This has been in the works since I started in March," Seely said in July. "We'll be able to provide area residents with several different stops and docking stations, and they'll be able to take these bikes and really see our city."

According to Cygnet's page on the Iowa State University Research Park website, the company aims to "provide a scalable solution for communities of all sizes. With the ability to install one to 1,000 self-contained units, smaller communities, colleges and universities, hotels and tourist attractions can provide a first-class bike share system."

The company's agreement with Clinton officials marks its first deal in the state of Iowa.

Seely says the CVB board has settled on a $25 day-long rate should bikers decide to take in the city for an extended period of time, while a three-hour rate of $8 also is available. Sponsorship opportunities are also available, and companies interested in sponsoring either a bike or a docking station should contact Seely and the CVB for details.

Payment is extremely easy, Seely said, and will involve users downloading a cellphone app and renting the bikes electronically. Once the app is downloaded, riders are also able to physically lock the bicycles from their phone with the touch of a button, locking up the wheels.

This will ensure the security of the bikes if riders decide to stop somewhere with the bikes for an extended time.

"It really is a very secure system, and that's something that we wanted to make sure of," Seely said. "It's very unique and up to date. The bikes themselves have graffiti-proof paint, so they'll also be secured in that way as well. I have a physical key that can unlock the bikes, too, and I'm the only one that has that key."

Now, after months of discussion and planning protocols such as security, Seely is confident that the implementation will be a rousing success for the city.

"When this all started, it was really all about how to choose a program that was best for our area," Seely said. "Just working with Cygnet and their people, and collaborating on a lot of different aspects, I hope that our community will see how useful this can be. This can be a really cool opportunity to travel the city in a little bit of a different way, so we're excited to see it all play out."