NEW BEDFORD — Just as the weather finally seems to be warming up, the City of New Bedford is providing another reason to want to get outside.

Mayor Jon Mitchell and city officials joined representatives of Zagster, Inc. and Harvard Pilgrim Health Care at the entrance of Fort Taber on Thursday to announce the launching of a new bike-share program that will provide residents and visitors of the Whaling City with a convenient and affordable way to get around.

“It's something that would add value to what we're trying to do in the city, and that's to raise the city's quality of life and to attract visitors and tourists here,” Mayor Mitchell said. “It's one more reason to come to New Bedford, its one more reason to tour New Bedford and have fun. And the great thing is if you're a resident of the city you can come over here and rent out a bike at a very cheap rate and go for a ride.”

Tourism Director Dagny Ashley added to the Mayor's point that the program can raise the attraction to tourists and visitors to spend time and money in the city, saying “bike-sharing is a tourism attraction in itself.”

“Bike-sharing can also increase visitation to a destination by luring bike trip adventurers, bike enthusiasts, experienced cyclists, and newcomers to bike riding,” Ashley continued. “With the ease and convenience of getting around you have the ability to spend more time in a destination, and that's what we want. We want people to spend more time in New Bedford. We like other people's money in New Bedford, so come here and stay here a lot longer. Day tripping to the city is also welcome.”

Beginning today, cruiser bikes will be available at State Pier and Fort Taber Park at station for members to have access to local trips on-demand. Riders must be 18 years or older and can join the program by signing up for either an annual fee or a pay-as-you-go, or a student membership. The annual fee is $25 with trips under one hour for free and one dollar for each additional 30 minutes, maxing out at $20 per ride.

Tim Dunn/Townsquare Media.

The design of the bikes is practical but also set a priority on safety. They're built with automatic lights, a bell, and full reflectors, and also include a spacious basket that's perfect for carrying groceries, takeout, or personal belongings.

Riders can access the bikes and view stations in the city or nearby in the free Zagster app, available on the App Store and Google Play, or online at zagster.com/newbedford. One tap in the app automatically unlocks the ring lock on the rear wheel via Bluetooth, allowing a rider to get rolling in seconds. After the rider returns the bike to a designated Zagster bike station, the rental ends and the bike is available for the next person to enjoy.