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Monday, March 18,2013

Rent-a-bike

Lansing is exploring a bike-sharing program in the city

by Andy Balaskovitz
From left: Lansing Parks Director Murdock Jemerson, LCC President Brent Knight, Rory Neuner and Ingham Co. Treasurer Eric Schertzing
Monday, April 18 — What if you needed to make a quick jaunt in the city, but you don’t own a car, the walk is too far and a bus might take too long?

At a press conference this morning at City Hall, a group of officials proposed a solution: a fee-based citywide bike-sharing program.

The Capital Community Bike Share would allow you to “rent a public bicycle for little to no cost at an automated station, bike to your destination, and return the bike at another station,” according to its website.

While funding is unsecured, costs are undetermined and how exactly the program would work is unresolved, officials are excited about the prospects.

Ingham County Treasurer Eric Schertzing led a group of local officials and transportation activists in December to explore the idea of Capital Community Bike Share.

“They help define community,” Schertzing said of bike-sharing programs, adding that Lansing’s will “rollout probably in 2012.”

The program is in the idea stage. Schertzing is soliciting public input on potential locations for kiosks where people could pick up or drop off bikes, he said.

It would take some capital to get started, but the idea is for the program to pay for itself through memberships and fees, said Rory Neuner, regional director for the Safe Routes to School Partnership. She estimated that initial costs could be between $20,000 and $30,000.

Upfront costs include installing kiosks, marketing and an “initial fleet” of bikes, she said. “It should fund itself once everything is installed.”

Schertzing encouraged people to take an online survey so planners can gather information about how the program might be structured. Questions include how likely is it that you would use it, how much you would pay for it and where you would want to pick up and drop off a bike? The survey is available here.

Lansing Community College Brent Knight announced LCC’s support for the program.

“LCC has parking issues,” he said with a laugh. “It (bike sharing) won’t solve our parking issue but it will be most helpful to our college. Every time we don’t have to add another parking space, it’s beneficial to the environment.”

Jason Kildea, who spoke on behalf developer Pat Gillespie, said a bike-sharing program would be the “next game-changer for Lansing.”

“We are heavily invested in downtown. We’re looking at possibly using one of our sites for potential pick-up or drop-off sites,” Kildea said, referring to the Stadium District housing complex and the planned Marketplace development next to the City Market.

Lansing City Councilwoman Jessica Yorko said bike sharing would be an “innovative” approach for the city to embrace its “complete streets” policies. Lansing was the first city in Michigan to adopt a complete streets ordinance, which commits the city to making transportation improvements around the idea that it should be accessible to all forms of transportation.

“A bikeable community is a healthy community,” Yorko said, who is also the environmental justice coordinator for the Ingham Co. Health Department. “It makes us a more connected, interactive and socially vibrant community.”


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