This year, Raleigh’s City Council voted to buy and install $300 million in new red flyer bikes that the city hopes will make the city a national model for bike-sharing.
The city will soon be rolling out about 2,000 of the red bikes to its public transportation system, and will soon have the first of these units in place.
“We’ve got the right combination of resources to make this happen,” said Mayor Nancy McFarlane, who said Raleigh has a “good infrastructure” to support a rapid growth in biking.
“But we also have to make sure that people feel safe when riding these bikes and having the freedom to do that.”
Raleigh’s plan calls for a new, more efficient fleet of red-and-black bikes, equipped with new safety features like a forward facing mirror and a brake system that will “enable more people to safely navigate Raleigh’s streets,” said a news release from the city.
Raleigh is also testing a new system that, when fully installed, will make bike sharing more convenient and accessible.
In the meantime, the city’s first electric red flyers are still in the testing phase.
“I’ve heard some concerns about this,” said Raleigh City Council member Adam Smith, who sponsored the bill.
“That’s not something we want to do.
It will be more expensive than any other option we’ve had.”
It’s unclear if Raleigh’s new bikes will be equipped with safety features that are common in other cities.
The bill’s sponsors, Council member Steve Kavanagh and Councilman Steve Fong, did not respond to a request for comment.
Red flyer trams already exist in some cities, but they have been slow to catch on.
The Raleigh-Durham Area Rapid Transit Authority (DART) recently bought a fleet of about 20 red- and blue-style trams, but only about 20 of the vehicles were equipped with bike racks.
“The red and blue bikes are the first bikes to be tested,” Kavanag said.
“So we want everyone to be able to have the experience of riding one of these in Raleigh.”
Kavanah said the new trams are also going to be “much more accessible to people who ride bicycles.”
“There’s going to need to be some kind of signage, but I think it’s going for a really safe experience for the city,” he said.
As of now, Raleigh has not yet received any federal funds to help finance the city-run fleet.
But the city has received grants from the U.S. Department of Transportation, which will pay for up to $100,000 for the purchase of 1,500 new red-blitzed bikes.
The DOT also has a $100 million grant to help fund new, smaller red-bike systems in other parts of the country.
“They are not the only cities that have seen a boom in the use of electric tricycling,” Kavannagh said.
He said the cost of the new red bikes is likely to be less than the cost for existing red-bicycle systems.
“It’s not that the cost is so high,” he added.
“What it is is that the demand is so great.”