Savannah residents will soon have rental bicycles as a public transit option.

The Savannah Morning News reports that Chatham Area Transit will launch a pilot bike-sharing program sometime in January.

Local transit officials say it’s the first municipal program of its kind in Georgia, and it puts Savannah alongside much larger cities including New York, San Francisco, Chicago, Philadelphia, Boston and Washington, D.C.

Two downtown bike stations have already been set up under the $40,000 program, though authorities won’t decide on an exact launch date until they finish testing the GPS systems attached to the bicycles.

Each location has spots for eight bicycles. Riders will be able to rent the bikes for $2 per half-hour. The program also will offer 7-day pass for $20 and an annual pass for $60. Bikes will be available from 5:30 a.m. to 11 p.m., and riders can return the bikes to either downtown rack.

The pilot program is part of a $15 million renovation of the downtown transit center that houses the Greyhound bus line. Chatham transit leaders told the newspaper that they envision serving riders with various needs, from sight-seeing or light exercise to traveling short distances across downtown on business to avoid the hassle of driving and parking cars.

The transit agency is working with local planning experts to identify sites for additional stations.

“For people who are interested in making bicycling part of their daily lives, bike-share programs provide an easy and affordable way to take transportational cycling for a ‘test drive,'” said John Bennett, executive director of the Savannah Bicycle Campaign, a local group that promotes cycling.

“Some research even suggests bike-share programs stimulate bike sales. Once people discover the fun and convenience of getting around by bike, they want wheels of their own.”

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Information from: Savannah Morning News, http://www.savannahnow.com