You can buy a 24-hour pass for $8 as part of Indy's new Pacers Bikeshare program and get unlimited use of a bike for 24 hours.
But there's a catch. If you don't check the bike in every 30 minutes at one of 25 stations dotted along the Cultural Trail, that $8 bill will skyrocket to $194 for 24 hours.
Why? Bikes, even with a 24-hour pass or an $80 annual membership, still must be checked in at a station every 30 minutes. If you don't, there are overage fees of $2 for the first 30 minutes and $4 for each 30 minutes after that . . .
Mary Ellen Mellitz counts herself among the confused.
"I was under the idea that this was a 24-pass," said the Crawfordsville woman. "And that meant I could have the bike for 24 hours."
So Mellitz and her sister came Downtown last month for a leisurely Saturday bike ride. They were out eight hours, stopping for lunch, going to the library and enjoying coffee.
That 8-hour ride — without checking in the bikes in at a station — cost each more than $60.
"They need to make this much much clearer to people," she said . . .When I started seeing the astronomical revenues the Bikeshare program was generating during its first couple of months of operation, I assumed there must have been a lot of confused bike renters. It was sort of like Mayor Ballard's privatization of the parking meter assets. Instead of getting one $20 ticket for an expired meter, the private company's meter patrols, who are misnamed "parking ambassadors," were writing multiple tickets for the same parking offense in a single day, leaving motorists with parking fines well north of a hundred dollars. According to Hunsinger's story, if you squawk loud enough about the Bikeshare overcharges, you can get a refund. I've only used a Bikeshare once while on vacation in Miami Beach. Their Bikeshare program allowed you to rent a bike in increments of one, two, four or up to 24 hours for a fixed fee without the need to dock the bike every 30 minutes. I was able to rent a bike for 2 hours for a flat $10 fee.