Iowa City on a roll with bike share agreement

The Iowa City City Council passed a resolution to sign a contract with Gotcha Mobility LLC that would allow the company to offer bike sharing in Iowa City.


Jenna Galligan

City council members listen to community concerns at City Hall on Tuesday, September 3, 2019.

Chloe O'Connor, News Reporter


The Iowa City City Council paved the way Tuesday night for ridesharing company Gotcha Mobility to bring a dockless, electric-assisted bike-share system to downtown streets in the next 90 days to improve transportation accessibility.

The passage of the resolution, which allows the city to sign a contract with the company, comes two years after the city council’s implementation of the Iowa City Bicycle Master Plan and a couple of months after its addition of new bike lanes to city streets.

“It will be just another transportation option that will be available to the community to quickly, easily, accessibly, and inexpensively get around town,” Iowa City Transportation Services Director Darian Nagle-Gamm said.

There is no set number of bikes that will serve the city yet, but several hundred are estimated to find a home in Iowa City. The bike-share system will begin with bikes available in the downtown area and will then spread outwards to suburban neighborhoods. 

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Nagle-Gamm said the implementation of the bike-share system will allow students easier, faster access to campus-wide classes and activities, as well as allow other members of the community a more economic transportation option.

“It will enable students to move around a lot better than they would otherwise be able to do,” Iowa City Mayor Jim Throgmorton said. 

Throgmorton said the bike-share agreement with Gotcha will also benefit Iowa City by aiding in the decongestion of busy roads and lower the city’s carbon emissions.

“It will enable people to not drive automobiles if they choose not to,” Throgmorton said, adding that 19 percent of Iowa City’s CO2 emissions come from transportation. “We have made a major commitment to reducing those emissions. Most of those transportation emissions come from motor vehicles. Of course, if we get people out of those vehicles by using bicycles, that will help lessen our carbon emissions.”

The bike-share agreement will also be an asset to low-income communities, Throgmorton and Nagle-Gamm said.

RELATED: New bike lanes improve commute to University of Iowa campus

“This will be much needed in low-income neighborhoods,” Councilwoman Mazahir Salih said at Tuesday’s meeting. “I hope when you start expanding, you will start to identify the communities that really need this.”

Nagle-Gamm added that the bike-share agreement will prioritize those who do not have consistent access to motor vehicles.

A smartphone app allows bikes to be rented for a day with a downpayment of $2 and costs 10 cents per minute ridden. The bikes can also be rented for a monthly fee of $9.99 or a yearly fee of $79.99. For those without access to a smartphone or credit card, Nagle-Gamm said, Gotcha is in the process of implementing other options.

He emphasized that the bikes are dockless, meaning the city will not have to pay to install or upkeep bike racks. The bikes are tracked through a GPS device and equipped with a program that will allow the city to designate certain areas as bike-docking zones. If a bike is parked outside a bike-docking zone, the rider can be fined.

“We’ve been looking for a partner for the community for several years,” Nagel-Gamm said. “We’re really excited. It’s been a long time coming.”

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