Tour de Trails challenge, ColumBIKE launch set to roll

Columbus residents will have their first opportunity to try out the city’s new BikeShare program when ColumBIKE is officially launched as part of the Tour de Trails bike race next month.

The Columbus Park Foundation will host its annual bike race May 21 as a way to raise funds for the maintenance of the city’s People Trail system. The race also will serve as the official kick-off for the city’s long-awaited BikeShare program, said April Williams, park foundation director.

Bike enthusiasts can register for one of three races, which all begin at the Bartholomew County Public Library plaza on Fifth Street:

The 80K, which heads west out of Columbus and circles back to Fifth Street

The 50K, which heads east out of Columbus and circles back to Fifth Street

The 20K, which follows the city’s trail system

The start time of each race is staggered by 30 minutes this year, with the 80K cyclists taking off first at 8 a.m. The idea is to ensure that all riders have returned to the Fifth Street plaza by 11:30 a.m., when the ColumBIKE program will officially begin, Williams said.

Columbus Mayor Jim Lienhoop will read a proclamation to mark the launch of the BikeShare program, then he and ColumBIKE partners will be the first residents to take the second generation BCycle bikes for a spin through the city’s streets, Williams said.

“We’ve been waiting for this for a year and a half, and it’s exciting to bring it to fruition and to have the community come out and celebrate with us,” Williams said.

Columbus residents who attend the ColumBIKE launch will have access to special deals for BikeShare memberships, Williams said. Normally, an annual membership will cost $80, but cyclists who sign up on May 21 will get a $10 discount.

The BikeShare committee also will announce its sponsors at the May 21 launch. So far, Columbus Regional Health has been publicly named as one of two major ColumBIKE sponsors, but the second asked to remain anonymous until the launch event, Williams said.

The committee also has secured sponsors for various parts of ColumBIKE, such as the kiosks and map stations, but there are still opportunities for other businesses and organizations to get in on the BikeShare program, she said.

Additionally, Williams said a new central location for ColumBIKE and the park foundation is currently under construction along Second Street. The exact location will be unveiled May 21.

Aside from BikeShare activities, the day’s activities also will include live entertainment and food provided by local vendors.

Registration is still open for the Tour de Trails races. The cost is $30 through Saturday, then $35 through May 21.

If you go

Tour de Trails/ColumBIKE launch

  • When: May 21; 80K begins at 8 a.m., 50K begins at 8:30 a.m., 20K begins at 9 a.m., celebration/BikeShare launch begins at 11:30 a.m.
  • Where: Begin at Bartholomew County Public Library plaza, 536 Fifth St., Columbus
  • Cost: $30 to race through Saturday; $35 afterward, which includes the cost of the race and a T-shirt
  • To register: Visit columbusparkfoundation.org, Donner Center, 739 22nd St., Columbus, or on-site on May 21

About ColumBIKE

The ColumBIKE BikeShare program will offer 78 bikes at eight proposed first-phase stations throughout Columbus. Residents can rent a white BCycle bike with an hourly, day or annual pass. Prices for passes are:

  • Hourly: $4
  • Day: $8
  • Annual: $80

The eight locations include:

  • ColumBUS depot at Mill Race
  • Fifth and Jackson streets
  • 4th and Washington streets
  • Visitors Center/library plaza
  • Cummins Engine Plant 1
  • Columbus Regional Hospital
  • Donner Park
  • Cummins Technical Center
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Olivia Covington is a reporter for The Republic. She can be reached at ocovington@therepublic.com or 812-379-5712.