During his announcement, Mayor Fischer showed one of the five red bikes offered in the LouVelo program.| Photo by Peter Champelli

On Thursday morning, Mayor Greg Fischer announced the launch of LouVelo, the city’s bike share program offering short-term rental bikes across the downtown area. 305 bikes are now active at 27 stations downtown, as well as in Old Louisville and NuLu.

The bicycles are available for any person to check out of a station and pay after returning it to any station in the system. Each half hour of riding costs $3.50, and LouVelo offers alternative monthly and annual plans.

The city contracted with CycleHop, which has launched similar projects in cities like Phoenix and Orlando, Florida. The Mayor said that a primary goal of this project is to move Louisville forward and to increase the quality of transportation.

“In Louisville, we have huge momentum right now, and in any city like this, you see multimodal transportation. You have to have adequate bike infrastructure, not just on the roads and in our parks, but on the street as well,” Mayor Fischer said.

In Nov. 2016, the city received a $1.6 million federal grant for the purchase and installation of the program’s infrastructure. Since then, the city has worked with CycleHop and LouVelo’s sponsors to fund the completion of the project and work towards their goals.

“We wanted to be really clear on how our bike sharing program tied together a few of the goals we had for our city, including quality of life, transportation, wellness, air quality and talent attraction and retention,” Mayor Fischer said.

After the Mayor initially spoke, City Councilwoman Barbara Sexton Smith (D-4) explained that five of the bikes are red and honor late boxing champion and Louisville native Muhammad Ali. When Ali was twelve years old, a thief stole his red bicycle, and he reported this to a police offer saying that he wanted to beat up the thief. The officer trained boxers, and told young Ali to learn to fight. Each of these five bikes says “Red Bike Moment” on the side, referencing the adversity Ali first faced before discovering his passion for boxing.

Councilwoman Sexton Smith said that she hopes her district, District 4, can purchase a sixth red bicycle.

“I want six red bikes because Muhammad Ali lived by six core principles… Confidence, Conviction, Dedication, Giving, Respect and Spirituality,” Sexton Smith said.

After the announcement, Mayor Fischer said that 15 more stations throughout Russell and the Highlands are being considered.

“First we want to see how the current system is used. What you see in other cities is that, as adoption rates go up, we’re gonna start expanding the network,” Mayor Fischer said.