CHESHIRE — A town resident is working to provide free bicycle rentals near the Farmington Canal Heritage Trail, emulating bike-sharing programs in Simsbury and other towns.
Jim Jinks has been collecting bikes to fix up for the program, which he hopes to start in May.
“It’s a way to build a culture of biking in Cheshire,” he said.
The first rentals will be offered on weekends, and possibly Monday and Friday, from the Ball & Socket Factory property near the trail. Jinks said renters will put down a $10 deposit and get a bike and helmet for 24 hours.
He’s hoping to enlist nearby businesses as rental points and to sponsor repairs.
The idea is modeled on Simsbury Free Bike, which has a fleet of 50.
“It’s certainly something we can be doing in Cheshire,” Jinks said. “We’ve almost got the bikes lined up. It’s just a matter of coming up with the funding, getting the bikes ready.”
Dillon Pronovost, owner of Cheshire Cycle in Hamden, was among the business owners contacted by Jinks. Pronovost also rents bikes and has a location on the trail.
“We do a good turn of biz every weekend at $19 a bike,” he said.
While free bike rental would cut into his business, Pronovost said it might increase interest in biking and in turn lead to more bike sales. He’s heard support for the idea from other cyclists although he questioned whether bikes would be stolen and how they’d be maintained.
“It’d be cool if it worked out,” Pronovost said.
Cheshire Cycle started on West Main Street in Cheshire before moving to another location in town and eventually to Hamden. Pronovost said the trail has been driving interest in biking.
Some bikes may be rented and stolen, he said, but other groups doing this, such as Simsbury Free Bike, haven’t been crippled by losses. The bikes for rent won’t be brand new.
“I’m sure we’ll lose some here and there,” Jinks said. “Hopefully that’ll be a small problem.”