Goodwin College Student Engagement Coordinator Vanessa Pergolizzi was a 2017 member of Leadership Greater Hartford’s (LGH) Quest Program. Part of Quest participants’ yearlong commitment is to research community needs and to focus their energies on finding solutions, often in partnership with other regional organizations.
Vanessa and her seven LGH taskforce teammates took on the theme of Healthy CT/Transit. They brainstormed ideas for projects to benefit the city of Hartford, ranging from a community garden to “detention to meditation” programs at Hartford schools, to farmers’ markets.
Ultimately, the group decided on launching a bike share program in Hartford, working closely with Sandy Fry, Bike and Pedestrian Coordinator for the City of Hartford, and Tony Cherolis, Transport Hartford Coordinator at the Center for Latino Progress and BiCi Co. co-founder.
They researched bike share types, read past reports such as the Capitol Region Council of Government’s 2014 transportation audit, and met with many institutions, companies, and potential partners to gather input and garner support. Based on their thorough research, the team recommended several paths to bring a bike share program to Hartford.
On October 11, 2017, the team hosted a roundtable at the Hartford Public Library, a pivotal moment in the launch of Hartford’s first bike share program. In the audience was Scott Mullen, Director of Expansion/Northeast at LimeBike, an organization that, according to their website, is “founded on the idea that mobility can be smart, equitable and fun. By connecting cities and improving the way people experience first and last mile transportation, we aim to leave future generations with a cleaner, healthier planet.”
Scott Mullen initially came to the meeting only to observe, but when he heard about the groundwork that the LGH team had put in place, he realized that Hartford was ready. He felt the momentum, community excitement, and institutional support, and at the meeting’s end, he announced that he would bring his “dockless bike share model” to Hartford in 2018.
Several additional meetings among the LGH team, LimeBike, the city, businesses, and regional coalitions were held to lay the foundation for the new venture, and on June 6, 2018, Hartford launched a bike share program using LimeBike, thanks to the efforts and hard work of the Healthy CT/Transit team.
11,000 rides were logged in the first two weeks and other cities are now exploring the launch of LimeBike. Due to the program’s popularity, Hartford has recently ordered 100 more bikes. Goodwin congratulates Vanessa on this outstanding accomplishment and for representing the College’s commitment to community service and environmental stewardship.