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Wednesday, July 31,2013

Bike share rolls out

First public bike share program in Michigan set to launch Sunday in Lansing

by Sam Inglot
Sunday will be a day of firsts. Lansing will be the first city in Michigan to have a public bike share program. And the launch will be the first project of A2B Bikeshare, a new Ann Arbor startup specializing in the niche market.  

Capital Community Bike Share began about two years ago with one goal: Create a public, fee-based citywide bike program. After years of organizing and fundraising, the goal has been met. 

The pilot program, which runs Sunday through the end of October, will feature 20 bikes and 40 racks, said Lynne Martinez, a consultant with Bike Share. 

The bike share is a “smart bike, dumb rack system,” which means all of the rental technology is built into a console on the bike. The racks, which hold one bike each, are being installed Thursday or Friday, Martinez said. The racks will be available in Old Town, REO Town, downtown and along East Michigan Avenue and can be moved to suit changes in ridership. Having twice as many racks as bikes will allow Bike Share to configure and group the racks to best serve the needs of the users, Martinez said. 

Bike Share collected $31,000 to get the pilot up and running, Martinez said. The original goal was to raise $42,000. The money was raised through grants, donations and memberships, which is enough to get the pilot going, she said. 

About 30 people have signed up for memberships. A $40 membership in the pilot waives the $5 upfront fee to use a bike, which non-members have to pay. For members and non-members, the first 30 minutes are free. Thirty-minute increments after that cost $2 each. For example, it would cost a non-member $7 to use a bike for 30 to 60 minutes, or $9 for 60 to 90 minutes.

Users will be able to walk up to a rack, put their credit card information or membership ID number into the handle bar-mounted console and take off. Bikes can then be returned to any other rack in the city. Users will be able to check bicycle availability on a computer or smart phone. Racks will be located at nine sites: the corner of Grand River Avenue and Turner Street in Old Town; City Hall plaza; City Market; the Stadium District; the 700, 1400 and 2000 blocks of East Michigan Avenue; Sparrow Hospital; and the corner of Washington Avenue and South Street in REO Town.

Bike Share’s partner in the pilot, A2B Bikeshare, is an Ann Arbor-based startup that was born from entrepreneurial classes at the University of Michigan. 

Ansgar Strother, the 21-year-old founder and CEO of A2B, said the bikes he and his team have designed are much cheaper and easier to use than other bike-sharing systems on the market. “When we started talking, they’d been looking for a bike share system for a long time, but the systems on the market were too expensive,” Strother said of Lansing’s organizers. “We offered them a lower-cost solution.”

A2B’s bikes cost about $2,000, Strother said, while other bikes can range from $4,000 to $6,000. “I’m hoping we’re able to provide a great service and do something that gets the community excited and ready to expand,” he said.

Capital Community Bike Share launch

Sunday

Noon-3 p.m

City Hall Plaza, downtown Lansing


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