Residents working in or visiting the downtown Phoenix area may notice the eye-catching new GR:D bikes cruising around the downtown streets. However, the wider community won’t get a shot at riding one of these “shared” bikes until later this year.

The Phoenix City Council on June 5 of last year awarded a contract for a new bike share program. The winning bidder, CycleHop LLC, is in the process of implementing a system of short-term rentable bicycles. Originally those bicycles were to be made available in December 2013. However, that system launch has now been pushed back to sometime in April of this year.

CycleHop has begun the process of a street demonstration of 10 bicycles, running through the end of January. This will allow the company to work with a small group of people who are basically “beta-testers” of the system. Most of these testers are city staff or CycleHop employees.

“The street demonstration will help the company get a handle on any back-end customer service issues,” explains Matthew Heil, public information officer for the Phoenix Street Transportation Department.

CycleHop also is testing the on-bike technology that provides GPS location services via cell and satellite signals. At the end of the street demonstration, CycleHop will survey participants to get a reading on positive aspects and areas for improvement.

Additionally, CycleHop is continuing to pursue sponsorship for the system, and is working locally to expand options for businesses that would like to participate, by providing a specific program for sponsoring individual stations, in addition to more general title sponsorship.

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