Take a spin around town on Lexington's newest public transportation

Erik Zamudio, 26, rides a Spin bike back to work after riding downtown to eat lunch in Lexington on Thursday.
Erik Zamudio, 26, rides a Spin bike back to work after riding downtown to eat lunch in Lexington on Thursday. swalker@herald-leader.com

Lexington residents looking to get around downtown faster can take a spin on the city's newest public transportation system.

The Spin bikeshare program provides distinctive orange bicycles to the city at no cost. The solar-powered bikes are locked until a user purchases a ride at a rate of $1 per 30 minutes. Users registering with an .edu email address receive 50 percent off.

Gregg Morton, 30, scans the code on a Spin bike in downtown Lexington on Thursday afternoon. Spin launched a station-less bike system in Lexington on Monday. The bikes electronic components are charged by solar panels and do not require a rack system to charge. Silas Walker swalker@herald-leader.com

Rides can be purchased through the Spin app, available on the Apple App Store and Google Play, or through a Spin Access card that can be loaded with cash and accessed through text. Each bike has a unique number, and every bike's location can be monitored through the app.

The program was proposed in April by the Lexington-Fayette Urban County Council. Scott Thompson, a pedestrian and bicycle planner, said traditional bikeshare programs use stationary docks, which the Spin bikes have abandoned for their internal locking system, but stationary docks can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars.

"It's important to encourage healthy communities," Thompson said at an April Lexington council work session. "It's also very important for tourism."

Michael Lewis scans the QR code on the back of a Spin bike with the Spin app in downtown Lexington. Each Spin bike is equipped with a GPS tracker that is powered by a solar panel. Silas Walker swalker@herald-leader.com

The bicycles are solar-powered through a panel in the front basket, which feeds into the lock and GPS system. The back light is also solar-powered, but the front light is not. The bikes come equipped with three gear speeds and an adjustable seat, as well as 26-inch wheels.

The bikes do not have to be parked at a bike rack and can be left anywhere around the city that doesn't impede vehicle or foot traffic, as they have a self-locking mechanism that makes the bike unusable until the next ride is purchased. But users returning bikes close to their original dock or to a Spin office can earn credits toward another ride.

Spin bicycles and electric scooters are available in 30 cities and 18 campuses. Lexington is the only city in Kentucky to support the program, which was founded in San Francisco in 2016.

For now, the city is testing a pilot program, but if the bikes are successful it will implement a full-scale program.