New Bike Share Program
Rolls Out

New Bike Share Program Rolls Out

Author: Shanelle L. Smith, Deputy Director, Department of Sustainability 

"Such a smooth and sturdy ride - UHBikes are the only way to travel in the City!"

-Matt Carroll, Chief Economic Growth and Opportunity Officer


Since the RNC, you have probably been wondering what is going on with the big, green bikes that are scattered throughout Cleveland. Those bikes are leaving but don’t fret, they have been replaced by the new, shiny red UHBikes!

After years of collaboration, and planning Cleveland’s formal bike share program UHBikes, sponsored by University Hospitals, launched with 250 bikes at 30 stations. 

At the launch, Mike Foley, Director of the county’s Department of Sustainability joked that we barely knew where the bathrooms where at the county’s administration headquarters before Bike Cleveland knocked on our door to partner with us to apply for a federal grant to make local bike advocates’ nearly 3 year dream of a bike share program a reality. 

UHBikes did not happen overnight, and it is a perfect example of how advocacy meets collaboration to get results. Before the county’s Department of Sustainability was created, Bike Cleveland, a bike advocacy non-profit with 700 members, worked with the City of Cleveland’s Public Utilities, and Office of Sustainability to complete a bike share feasibility study in 2012. With this study, we knew that there was a need, and a demand for a bike share program in Cleveland.

As a county, we saw UHBikes as an opportunity to address health and equity issues throughout our community. 14% of county residents are without a car, and that number increases to 25% when you just focus on Cleveland residents[i].

Being newbies to the county, we thought by getting the $357,000 grant from Northeast Ohio Areawide Coordinating Agency (NOACA), Bike Cleveland raising matching grant dollars and the city of Cleveland kicking in some funds that the bikes would appear out of thin air. That is not what happened.

This is how government gets results: Our Department of Procurement & Diversity helped us to issue a request for bike share operators, the state of Ohio’s Department of Transportation guided us to what requirements we needed to meet, community members selected CycleHop-SoBi as a vendor, and then our Law Department worked diligently to negotiate contracts.

Still not done.

The RNC was fast approaching, and we needed to launch the pilot program so Phoenix’s GRID Bike Share program shipped us 100 green bikes! But where would we put those bikes!? Public Works stepped up to let use their facilities as a temporary bike assembly plant! 

Oh, and we needed a title sponsor! Doubling down to their commitment to health, wellness and their community University Hospitals entered into a new partnership with CycleHop-SoBi.

UHBikes officially hit the streets with Alex Baca serving as the General Manger. Since then, UHBikes’ 1,271 members have taken 5,125 trips, rode 9,376 miles, and burned 375,033 calories!

Want to join the fun? Here is How UHBikes Works:

How UHBikes Work
The Department of Sustainability’s mission is to collaborate with businesses, nonprofit organizations and government agencies to develop programs incorporating environmental sustainability into business and government practices.

[i] Cuyahoga County Planning Commission