Issues of the Environment: Ann Arbor's Bike Sharing Program

Aug 28, 2013

Issues of the Environment is a feature produced weekly, and heard exclusively during Morning Edition on 89.1 WEMU.

In this week's installment WEMU's David Fair talks with  Heather Seyfarth, Program Supervisor for the Clean Energy Coalition. The Coalition has partnered with the City of Ann Arbor, The University of Michigan and the Ann Arbor Area Transportation Authority to create a large-scale bike sharing program in Ann Arbor. Next spring, there will be 14- bike-sharing stations, and 125-bikes available to members of the public.


Overview

  *   In August 2013 the Ann Arbor City Council entered an agreement with the Clean Energy Coalition in order to launch a multi-million dollar community bike sharing program.

  *   Funding for the program comes from a large federal grant (secured by the CEC), matching funds from the City of Ann Arbor, and the University of Michigan.

  *   At stations throughout the city and the University of Michigan campus members of the bike-sharing network can check out bikes to use at their convenience.

  *   This program is the first of its kind in Michigan, but similar programs have been implemented in college towns across the United States.

  *   Although increased bicycling has been found to reduce traffic congestion and decrease noise and air pollution, critics point out that bike-sharing programs are usually not profitable and often require ongoing public funding.

Stations will be located in and around downtown and the University of Michigan campus. Anyone age 18 and up will be able to join as either a daily, weekly or annual member with easy access to rentable bicycles by swiping either a membership card or credit card at the kiosk. Bicycles can be returned to any station in the network. Information provided to council members shows day passes costing $5, weekly passes costing $20 and annual memberships costing $60.

The CEC secured a $600,000 federal grant for capital costs and the city is providing $150,000 in matching funds from its Alternative Transportation Fund over the next two years. The University of Michigan also has pledged $600,000 to help cover operations for the first three years, with memberships and other sponsorships expected to cover the rest.