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A new bike share program hits the streets of Corvallis on Thursday.

Called Pedal Corvallis, the two-year pilot program will distribute 35 bicycles to six locations around town and charge a $25 annual fee to participate. Officials also plan to add locations if more sponsorship dollars come in.

The six locations are: the downtown transit center, the Oregon State Credit Union (1980 N.W. Ninth St.), Lincoln Heath Center (121 S.E. Viewmont Ave.), the Benton County Health Department (530 N.W. 27th St.), Osborn Aquatic Center (1940 N.W. Highland Drive) and SamFit at Samaritan Square (777 N.W. Ninth St.).

The program is a joint effort of the Oregon Cascades West Council of Governments and the InterCommunity Health Network Coordinated Care Organization. Also involved are the city of Corvallis, Benton County, the Corvallis School District, the Oregon State Credit Union, Samaritan Health Services and the Corvallis Sustainability Coalition.

“We’re excited to partner with the (health network) and the city to bring bike share to Corvallis,” said Fred Abousleman, executive director of Oregon Cascades West Council of Governments, which serves Benton, Linn and Linn counties.

“Pedal Corvallis is a healthy and affordable way to meet the transportation needs of our Medicaid members and community in general.”

And the health needs as well, said Phil Warnock, community and economic director of Cascades West.

“The partnership with InterCommunity Health Network Coordinated Care Organization is unique in that it really gets to making health a part of everyday life, not just about going to the doctor,” Warnock said.

Medicaid members will be eligible for free bicycle helmets, said Tarah Campi, community and economic development planner for Cascades West.

Campi gave the Gazette-Times a sneak preview of the bicycles that will be used in the program. Leased to the program by Zagster, a Massachusetts company that operates bike-share programs in 130 other locations, the bikes have all of the expected safety features, including lights that go on automatically.

Attached to each bike is a lock box that can only opened by a member. The lock box carries the key to the bike’s locking unit.

The program is available to those 18 and over and the inventory includes two tricycles with large baskets and oversized saddles.

The trikes, Campi said, are targeted toward users who need more cargo space and who might have balance issues.

The trikes will be available at the Lincoln Health Center and Benton County Health Department locations and must be returned there. The other bikes can be returned to any location.

Corvallis will be the second town in Oregon to offer such a program, Campi said. The Medford-Ashland region was the first to take the plunge, although Eugene and Portland are considering programs.

“I’m delighted to welcome bike share to Corvallis,” said Mayor Biff Traber, who will participate in a ribbon-cutting at 2 p.m. Thursday at the downtown transit center (see information box).

“In a community that already values biking, this will only enhance our community’s commitment to a healthy lifestyle and environment for everyone.”

Contact reporter James Day at jim.day@gazettetimes.com or 541-758-9542. Follow at Twitter.com/jameshday or gazettetimes.com/blogs/jim-day.

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