Salem will take its bike-sharing program for another spin after a successful pilot season.
Salem Spins, a program that offers bicycles, free of charge, for use around the city, launched for the summer season last week.
The city's fleet of 20 bicycles is split between two hubs, at Salem State University and downtown, near the Hawthorne Hotel. Participants are free to use a bicycle for the day after leaving a credit card with an attendant as collateral and signing a waiver to absolve the city of any responsibility.
"It's important, given the traffic congestion in town," said Paul Marquis, Salem's energy and sustainability manager. "The ultimate hope here in Salem is that we can use this program to connect areas of Salem. ... We're hoping folks who would ordinarily drive downtown instead opt for a bicycle."
Last fall, Salem was awarded $25,000 from the Green Communities grant program, which went toward the purchase of the bike fleet.
The Salem State bike hub, located at the campus police station, is staffed by student workers; their wages are paid by the university. At the downtown location, bikes are checked in and out by front-desk staff at the Hawthorne Hotel.
The program runs without any funding from the city budget, Marquis said.
The beauty of the program is that it works for students and residents, as well as tourists, Mayor Kim Driscoll said.
It's perfect for visiting places within the city that are a little too far for walking, she said.
Salem Spins was launched in late September and ran for two months. On average, five bikes were used per day at Salem State, and two or three were used at the Hawthorne Hotel.
"Ridership was on the low side, but we didn't aggressively market the program because we wanted to work out the kinks," Marquis said.