October 21, 2021

Homer wants a bike-friendly community

The Homer village board is looking to turn the village into a bike-friendly community with a study on how to do so and potentially allowing public electric bikes.

The board unanimously approved Wednesday night entering into an agreement with the Central New York Regional Planning and Development Board, which will provide 50 percent grant funding for the cost of a bike trail study.

“The goal is to make Homer a more bike friendly area,” Mayor Darren “Hal” McCabe said.

Homer already has two bike routes, which go through Cortlandville and into the city of Cortland, McCabe said.

The study would indicate whether the village needs to widen lanes, put bike lanes on the roads or other endeavors. Doing the study would allow the village to apply for grants, too, McCabe said.

A study date has not been set, yet.

“It’ll fit in with our Route 11 (project) and all that,” Village Board Member Ed Finkbeiner said. The village plans to spruce up Route 11 between the village and the city of Cortland and make the Tioughnioga River more accessible. There is already a bike route along that road.

Village Board Member Pat Clune suggested the village have a public meeting to let the community know about its plans to improve biking in the area.

The board agreed, but did not schedule that meeting Wednesday night.

Lime Bikes would also be a part of that discussion.

The electric bikes are provided by California-based company Lime, which is a private company that partners with public initities.

The city of Cortland approved allowing the Lime Bikes last week. The village and Cortlandville are considering doing the same, McCabe said.

Ithaca, the village of Dryden and Tompkins Cortland Community College already have the lime-colored electric bikes, which are used through an on-demand rental system.

Through a smartphone application, a customer would have an account for the bikes, McCabe said.

Scanning the bike’s QR code turns it on and the customer can ride it wherever, being charged for the time. The bike’s electric motor assists with pedaling.

The bikes would come to each community at no cost to local governments, McCabe said. They just have to approve allowing Lime to provide the bikes.

Lime does all the work on the bikes, too. It brings them in. It tracks them. It picks them up, everything, McCabe said.

“We have no obligations or responsibilities whatsoever,” he said.

One uncertainty with the bikes is they have yet to go through a Northeast winter, McCabe said. But it will still be up to Lime to take care of them.

Village Board Member Tim Daley said the only complaint he has heard about the Lime Bikes is they get left where people are walking, because when riders are done with the bike, they can leave the bikes wherever.

McCabe expects the village to vote on the Lime Bikes next month for a spring start.

“It’s just another draw to get people to come here,” Village Board Member Kevin Slack said.