Bike share program launches in Elgin, Aurora and Montgomery
After a delay caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Fox Valley Bike Share System launched recently with bicycle rental locations in Elgin, Aurora and Montgomery, with another location in the works in Batavia.
The program is led by the Kane County Division of Transportation, which partnered with local entities -- city and village officials in Aurora, Montgomery and Batavia, and the Downtown Neighborhood Association of Elgin -- to offer the program featuring bright orange bikes for rent from the company Koloni.
The bike stations in Elgin, Aurora and Montgomery offer regular bikes, while the future station in Batavia will offer electric bikes, or e-bikes. People can rent bikes and drop them off at any location.
Rentals are done using a QR code on the bikes and the Koloni app on smartphones. Prices for regular bikes are $4 for the first hour and $5 for each additional hour. E-bikes will be $9 for the first hour and $10 for each additional hour. Monthly memberships are $10 and annual memberships are $50, and both come with the first hour free.
Each local entity negotiated its own contract with the bike company, and Kane County gave a $7,000 subsidy each to help the program get off the ground in the first year, said Troy Simpson, planning liaison for the Kane Kendall Council of Mayors.
The e-bikes in Batavia haven't launched yet because of a delay in shipment, he said.
The local entities will get a share of the proceeds from the rentals and Koloni will oversee the fleet, including maintenance and winter storage, Simpson said. The bikes will become "unrentable" after seven uses, which is when Koloni will bring them in for maintenance and sanitation before putting them back on the streets.
The COVID-19 pandemic has sparked a surge of interest in bicycling, with shops mostly unable to keep up with demand, Simpson said. Also, people's visits to public parkland have increased by 200% to 300% in the last couple of months based on Google data, he said.
"I don't think we necessarily forethought how much sense it was going to make to launch it right now," said Jennifer Fukala, executive director of the Downtown Neighborhood Association of Elgin. "There is more demand than ever before."
• Elgin has three bike stations downtown: at Fountain Square; along North Grove Avenue near Kimball Street; and at Festival Park just south of the playground. The association has a $12,000 yearly contract for eight bikes, and Koloni added two extra bikes at no cost, Fukala said. The cost for the first year is being covered by grants coupled with the county's subsidy, and the hope is to secure advertising, which will help cover future costs, she said. "We have definitely seen people ride them from the first day," she said.
• Aurora has a contract for 10 bikes at three stations: at city hall/Water Street pedestrian mall; at RiverEdge Park/Aurora Transportation Center; and by the Aurora Public Library at Benton and River streets. Aurora previously had a bike share program through the company Zagster, which has ceased operations.
• Montgomery has a contract for four bikes with a station by city hall, 200 N. River St.
• Batavia will have seven e-bikes with a station at South Plaza by city hall.