The new Detroit Bike Share launches in April. Here’s how it’s shaping up

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Detroit’s bike share system is on track to launch in April under a yet-to-be-determined name, with various membership and payment options, subsidies for low-income users, a mobile app and solar-powered stations that can easily be relocated based on demand.

The first phase of the launch will spread 420 bikes between 42 solar-powered stations, with 100,000 trips forecast during the first year, according to Lisa Nuszkowski, executive director of Detroit Bike Share with the Downtown Detroit Partnership.

The stations will be clustered in an area that roughly corresponds with the 7.2 square miles of the downtown-to-New Center core but also extend to Eastern Market, Clark Park in southwest Detroit and down East Jefferson nearly to Belle Isle. A website is expected to go live before the end of the year to solicit feedback on station locations.

Bike share systems have popped up in major cities like New York and Chicago but also smaller ones like Des Moines and Salt Lake City. Detroit would become somewhere between the 70th and 80th U.S. city to operate a bike share program.

Bike sharing is meant to provide an option for short trips, such as from a bus stop to a museum, or from work to a coffee shop for a meeting.

Lisa Nuszkowski

“We want people to think a little bit differently about how we get around town,” said Nuszkowski, adding that the average length of bike share trips is 1.8 miles. “This is really about point A to point B transportation.”

Users will pay for memberships, with a free 30-minute period every time you use a bike. Fees aren’t yet final but will run around $8 for 24 hours, $18 per month or $80 for an annual pass. Users can purchase memberships via a mobile app, at the kiosk with a credit card, or with cash at participating CVS, Family Dollar or 7-Eleven stores.

Officials are also studying Philadelphia’s bike share system for clues on how to structure subsidies for low-income users, which are being provided courtesy of funding from the Knight Foundation.

Creative Commons photo by Gavin Anderson

The system will also work in concert with an existing mobile app that will show users a range of available transit options, including bike share, QLine, SMART bus, DDOT, Uber and Lyft.

“It’s not just about bike share, it’s helping people think through a little bit differently about the kind of trips that we take and the variety of options that are actually out there to use,” she said.

Officials are working with a Cleveland-based branding agency to develop the bike share system’s name and look. Henry Ford Health System/Health Alliance Plan was announced last year as the title sponsor and will have its logo displayed on each bike, while Chicago-based Shift Transit will build the bikes and operate the system, including maintenance and ensuring stations aren’t empty or overfull.

If the program proves successful, a second phase would involve adding 250 bikes and 25 stations.

Nuszkowski said Detroit Bike Share promises to deliver an economic boost because studies show that bike share users spend more with local businesses than bicyclists or motorists.

“It’s a really great tool for economic development,” she said. “It supports local businesses.”

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