It’s as easy as riding a bike. Literally. Red Bike is Greater Cincinnati’s über-popular bike-sharing program. Borrow a bike (with an attached wire basket) from one of about 20 rental stations in the downtown area and get from point A to point B without the hassle of traffic or parking woes and in less time than it takes to walk. Newly added stations in Covington make getting around Northern Kentucky —and across the river — a breeze.
Step 1: Find a Red Bike station. They’re strategically placed throughout the city to help you get from uptown to downtown. The stations are solar-powered, so err on the side of caution and don’t pick a bike in the shade. You can find the nearest corral by using Red Bike’s user-friendly app, B-cycle (for Apple and Android). Riders must be 18 years or older.
Step 2: Inspect the bike. Check the firmness of your chosen “B-cycle” tires and make sure the chain isn’t rusty. If it’s good to go, rent your three-speed bike at the station’s kiosk. The bike dock will beep once the bike has been unlocked (continuously for 30 seconds or until the bike has been removed), and again when it’s been returned. Red Bike kiosks only take credit cards; it’s $8 for a 24-hour pass or $80 for an annual pass. You can sign up for membership at cincyredbike.org.
Step 3: Looking for a helmet? Red Bike doesn’t provide them and Cincinnati doesn’t legally require you to wear a helmet while biking. You probably didn’t pack one, but we will still suggest you ride cautiously and/or wear a helmet so you don’t break your brain and whatnot.
Step 4: Don’t ride on the sidewalk. It’s illegal (unless you’re 15 or younger, in which case you shouldn’t be on a Red Bike to begin with). Use the city’s numerous bike lanes — like the one along Central Parkway — instead. Other safe-riding tips from Red Bike include: ride with traffic, yield to pedestrians, obey traffic signs and signals, use hand signals to let drivers know which direction you’re turning and walk bikes on sidewalks.
Step 5: See you in 60. Red Bike requires you to deposit the bicycle at the nearest station 60 minutes after renting. You can retrieve another bike from the dock after you put back your first one and keep going. Unless you’re Lance Armstrong, the system is meant for shorter commutes — it’s more convenient this way, and you won’t need half as much dope, either.
Step 6: Tracking. Track the calories you’ve burned and distance traveled online or through the program’s app. Just keep in mind it takes about half an hour of moderate biking (10 mph) to burn off a Starbucks white chocolate mocha.
Step 7: Don’t steal your bike. If your bike isn’t returned after 72 hours, it’s considered stolen and the rider will be charged $1,200. You can buy, like, 10 bikes for that much.
For more info and a full list of locations, visit cincyredbike.org.