FILE - Electric bike sharing

Electronic-assist bike-sharing will soon be available in Iowa City.

The city council is entering into an agreement with South Carolina-based Gotcha Mobility to implement the bike-share program within the next three months.

According to Darian Nagle-Gamm, Iowa City’s transportation services director, the bike-share concept has been on the city’s radar “for some years.” Playing the role of liaison as the city fields proposals from bike-sharing companies, Nagle-Gamm described the form of transportation “healthy, safe, affordable and easily accessible.”

Iowa City's master plan calls for shifting 55 percent of vehicle trips to sustainable options such as public transportation, bicycle or pedestrian trips by 2050.

Electronic-assist bikes allow riders to travel faster with less physical activity, according to the company; for example, it's easier to pedal uphill. The sturdy tires and lack of chains enable the bikes to withstand snowy and rainy conditions better than ordinary bikes, the company says.

Gotcha will deploy employees to Iowa City to assist in such things as finding suitable locations in the downtown to base the bike fleet and perform maintenance.

The bikes can be accessed when syncing with a smartphone app. Users will pay $2-per ride to access the bike and an additional 10 cents per minute. Monthly and annual passes will be available in addition to an income-qualified equity program and a cash-only option for individuals without smartphones. The bikes can be picked up at one location and dropped off at another.

Nagle-Gamm hopes that the program will extend beyond downtown, with the University of Iowa viewed as a viable market.

Iowa City is not the first city in the Hawkeye State to have a bike-share program. Mason City, Pocahontas, Des Moines, Pella and nearby Cedar Rapids operate their own programs.