A Bike-Share Debut, 800 Miles Away

By Ted Mann

AFP/Getty Images – A demonstration of Alta’s bike-sharing program in New York last year. A similar system in Tennessee launched this week after a delay.

Shared bikes have hit the streets in Chattanooga, which had been waiting just like New York City for the launch of a delayed program.

The bike-share system in the Tennessee city went live Monday night, nearly three months after its scheduled launch, according to the local director of bicycle operations. The company operating Chattanooga’s system, Alta Bicycle Share, is the same company tapped to run New York’s  similar Citi Bike program.

As the Journal reported last week, Chattanooga’s delayed deployment came about because of software tests undertaken by Alta after a key equipment supplier split with its software vendor. In New York, where Alta is rolling out similar equipment, officials have acknowledged that shared bikes won’t be ready by an end-of-July deadline.

All ended well in Chattanooga, said Philip Pugliese, the city’s bicycle coordinator, in a phone interview Tuesday. He said customers were flocking to the 300 bikes.

“Everything’s working as expected,” Pugliese said. “And we’re very excited to be operational.”

Asked how quickly city residents began to use the bikes, which had been sitting idle on city corners for weeks, Pugliese chuckled. “People used it about 10 minutes after we turned it on,” he said.

New York officials and Alta have been tight-lipped about the launch of the Citi Bike system. Mayor Michael Bloomberg has blamed the delay on software issues, and no new launch date has been declared.

Under the city’s contract with Alta, the company was required to begin operating the system by July 31.