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ValleyBike program on hold after service company warns of financial problems

An empty ValleyBike docking station in Northampton, Massachusetts, on April 24, 2023.
Alden Bourne
/
NEPM
An empty ValleyBike docking station in Northampton, Massachusetts, on April 24, 2023.

A bike-sharing program in western Massachusetts is on hold this spring.

ValleyBike has been operating in eight communities including Chicopee, Holyoke, Springfield and South Hadley. It started in 2018.

People could ride an electric-assist bicycle and return it to a docking station. Federal grant money paid for the equipment.

The Canadian company Bewegen provided technology and customer support. It also repaired the bikes and redistributed them among the stations.

But earlier this year, the company notified the cities and towns it was initiating bankruptcy proceedings to dissolve its bike share contracts around the world.

Carolyn Misch, the sustainability director for Northampton, has been leading negotiations with the company.

"They've asked to create a contract in which the cities pay for the operational costs and up to this point, the cities have not had to pay anything for the operation of bike share," she said.

Misch said she's optimistic an agreement can be reached and that at least some bikes will be available through the program by the end of May. The company could not be reached for comment.

Before joining New England Public Media, Alden was a producer for the CBS NEWS program 60 Minutes. In that role, he covered topics ranging from art, music and medicine to business, education and politics.