CAMDEN, N.J. (WTXF) - Rent a bike and ride it anywhere around town, then drop it off anywhere.
It’s a one of a kind program and officials hope it’s a big hit.
Driving through Camden, or a drive through many of the surrounding areas, show that in a few blocks, drivers can go from fairly affluent, tourist filled areas to lower income neighborhoods.
“There’s a lot of less fortunate people that are not drug addicts that need help, that need shelter every night,” said Andre Spruel.
Traveling those few blocks can also be night and day in terms of services offered, with residents often asking for the same opportunities afforded the richer areas. For the time being, at least one program wants to see if bike sharing can work.
“I think it’ll just generally be for this part of the city at the waterfront where people who come in from out of town can come in, grab a bike and ride around. When they’re finished, they’ll lock the bike up and go back out of town,” Spruel explained.
Andre was the first Camden resident at the launch of a test run of the new bike share program. He’s a community activist and was working just steps away from the launch. His concerns represent the challenges of bringing new programs to cities used to being overlooked. Challenges the mayor, also a longtime resident, understands.
“It’s a challenge, it’s something new, different. Our residents were never exposed to this and my job is to really take this out to the community,” said Camden Mayor Francisco “Frank” Moran.
The OFO bike share is innovative in many ways. First, the bikes do not require docking stations. They unlock with an app and that leads to the second innovation. A person can take them and leave them, literally, anywhere in Camden. That’s because they want the inner cities to have access to them in a way that other areas don’t have access.
“We’ll be promoting it through our community centers, through our radio station on Sundays and literally door-to-door. We want our residents to take advantage of these amenities,” Mayor Moran explained.
They will likely be a hit in the business and tourist district. But, how did people feel about the program the further one got from the tourist district?
“I absolutely think it can work. I think it’s a great idea that will encourage people to get out and about in the community more,” said resident Maureen.
Even further out in the neighborhoods, people were happy to be included, but they had bigger concerns.
“They look nice. Everything about them looks good, but the environment around them has gotta come up,” said resident Leon.
The OFO bike share is a test. Part of that test is to see what happens when resources traditionally kept in specific areas are spread.
Mayor Moran and Andre want resources for their city. Let’s hope that Camden passes the test and encourages others to follow suit and expand resources. For goodness’ sake.
Today dock-less #bikeshare comes to #Camden. These bikes will be in all neighborhoods and can be parked virtually anywhere. They’re testing its success rate. Will it work in inner cities? #forgoodnesssake @fox29philly #wegothere pic.twitter.com/xdNRq2FHcF— Bill Anderson (@BillAFox29) May 1, 2018