VERO BEACH — The city is is working with the Live like Cole Foundation to implement its first community bike-sharing program.
The City Council Tuesday approved the program, giving the foundation an exclusive five-year agreement to operate the bike-sharing program.
The premise is simple, said Dr. Nicholas Coppola, chairman of the Live Like Cole Foundation board. Self-serve bike racks will be set up in three locations — Jaycee Park, the Ocean Grill at Sexton Plaza and Humiston Park.
Rentals, reserved online or through a downloaded app, will cost $5 for the first hour and $3 for each additional hour. The foundation expects to make more money from ads on the bikes than from rentals, Coppola said.
'It will promote local tourism, increase number of people visiting the beach. The bicycle design encourages slow speed and good riding behavior," Coppola said. "It will also help increase public health to those people who do choose to ride rather than drive."
The foundation is named after Coppola's 16-year-old son Cole, who was killed Sept. 27, 2014, while riding his bike on the Alma Lee Loy Bridge. Proceeds from the program will be used toward other community projects and local scholarships, Coppola said.
The foundation is paying half of the $220,000 Cole Coppola Memorial Fishing Pier, currently under construction at Riverside Park. The foundation also is paying half the $123,000 repair of the city-owned dock at Royal Palm Pointe.
For the new program, the foundation is buying about a dozen bikes, at $800-$1,000 each.Bikes will be equipped with reflectors and lights for night safety and tracking systems to avoid theft, Coppola said. The foundation plans to install racks for the bikes at all city parks, so people have alternate locations to return the rented bikes.
"We don't expect people to always bring the bike back to the same location," he said.
If the program is successful, bike-sharing racks could be added at locations such as downtown 14th Avenue, Coppola said.
"The benefits of bike sharing include the easing of parking requirements, exposure to local businesses, reduced carbon emissions and the improved health of the bike users. In a community of visitors and tourists, the use and benefits are increased dramatically," Coppola said in a letter to City Manager Jim O'Connor.
The Coppola Family with the first Live Like Cole bicycle for the program. Photo: David Moshier/City Guide
Left to right: Wayne Coment, Chief Currey, Elaine Coppola, Laura Moss, Tammie Bursick, Jim O'Connor, Lange Sykes, Harry Howle, Nicholas Coppola, Margaret Mattingly, Brenda Doninger-Bradley, Linda Teetz, Tony Young.
Photo: David Moshier/City Guide