I’ve had a Pacers Bikeshare membership for just over a year. I love how convenient it is, so much so that I use it instead of my own bike to get to and from work every day. I’m a big fan of the program and have become an unofficial advocate for it, so I thought it would be helpful to share some of my tips.
- Invest in the annual pass. Day passes are $8 for 24 hours’ worth of unlimited 30-minute rides. Annual passes are $80. So riding just 10 times a year makes it worthwhile. And with the annual pass, you get a card that lets you bypass the kiosk and go straight to the bike you want to check it out.
- Know before you go. Download the app and check to see if there are bikes at the station near you. When you get close to a station, a “Get a bike” option will appear and you can enter the dock number to check out a bike. Don’t forget to check near your destination to make sure there are open docks. If a station you’re picking up from is empty, most locations have another station within walking distance. If you’re returning a bike and there are no open docks, go to the kiosk and click “more options.” There, you’ll be able to see what nearby docks are open and it will credit your account with 15 minutes to get there without being fined.
- Stay on the cultural trail and in bike lanes, not the sidewalk. For the most part, all of the stations are on or near the Cultural Trail, which is designed for cyclists. Biking on the sidewalk is illegal (I think) and also not safe for pedestrians. As much as possible, respect the rules and stay on the trail or in designated bike lanes in the road. There are a few stations that are just off the trail and require you to be on the sidewalk in order to dock. In those situations, I recommend getting off the bike and walking it to the station.
- Use the bell. The Cultural Trail can get crowded and there are times when the sidewalk and trail are one in the same (i.e. in front of the Conrad on Washington Street). Give pedestrians around you a heads up by ringing the bell. Don’t be afraid to call out “biker on your left.” And remember, cyclists always yield to pedestrians.
- Bike defensively. Some cars don’t care about cyclists. In fact, some cars get super annoyed by cyclists. Don’t assume that because they have a red turn arrow that they will stay stopped and you can fly through with the right of way. Always, always be on the defensive.
- BYOH. Bring your own helmet. I’m guilty of not wearing mine… which I justify since my route is entirely on the Cultural Trail. But realistically everyone should be using a helmet every time.
- If you see something, say something. It’s true with Homeland Security and with the Pacers Bikeshare. If you notice a flat tire, loose chain, broken seat or anything else, call the number listed on the bike. They will want to know what station and dock number you are at, and may ask for the bike number as well (located on the frame). After you’ve called, turn the seat around backward as a sign to approaching bikeshare users that the bike is out of service.
- Don’t hog the bikes. The system works best, and the stations stay balanced better, when people dock their bikes once they get to their destination and pick up a new bike when they are ready to leave. It’s not designed for you to keep the bike out and lock it up somewhere away from the stations. If you want to spend the day joy riding, that’s cool. Just dock and pick up a new bike often.
- Explore the city. The location of the stations being on the Cultural Trail makes it so easy to explore parts of the city you might not normally get to. Head to Fountain Square. Check out the north end of Mass Ave. Get over to the canal. I already loved Indy but being out on the bike every day has made me appreciate everything our downtown has to offer even more.
- Explore other cities. The Pacers Bikeshare is part of the larger BCycle system, which has locations in several cities across the country. You can use your membership card in any of these locations!
Are you a bikeshare user? What tips did I miss? Let me know in the comments below!