By Hélène Dryden
Lansing Star staff writer
Lansing is joining a movement establishing itself in cities across the globe encouraging people to explore their cities on two wheels by creating a community bike share program.
About a year ago, bicycling advocates from groups such as the Tri-County Bicycle Association, Mid-Michigan Environmental Action Council and the League of Michigan Bicyclists, began meeting to plan what is now coined the Capital Community Bikeshare. The concept is to provide quick access to bike transportation to replace trips in cars.
The model proposed for Lansing is being borrowed from Washington D.C., Minneapolis, Denver and other cities across the U.S. and the world. In this model, there would be multiple automated kiosks in locations throughout Lansing. At these kiosks, customers or members would be able to rent bikes for little or no cost and return the bikes at any of the designated kiosks.
The project would initially be funded by sponsorships from private companies and then sustained by annual membership fees. The Ingham County Land Bank has been a huge support of the project and is working to find sponsors and organize planning efforts. Land Bank President Eric Schertzing says a bike share program is a great way to strengthen the attractiveness of a community. “I think it’s a whirlwind from a lot of different perspectives, it’s a great way to go shorter distances, it’s a great way to get exercise and people out moving, and then as a state capital especially, where a lot of people come in here for conferences and trade shows, it’s really ideal for tourists who want to get around and take a look at the town,” said Schertzing.
Transportation for Michigan project coordinator Rory Neuner is also a huge advocate of the program and has been very active in its conception. Neuner says that the program would be targeting students or people who work in downtown Lansing who could use bikes to go out to lunch or get to a meeting in the city. Bikes would be rented for 30 minutes with a small rental fee added for any additional time. “It’s a quick, easy fix, it doesn’t take any additional infrastructure, you just need bicycles. You don’t need to do anything else to the roads, so it’s an easy way to get people out of their cars and onto bicycles,” said Neuner.
Current bike shops in Lansing are also very supportive of the project. “The fact that we’re going to promote the use of bikes as a form of transportation in the Lansing area is a wonderful thing” said Riverfront Cycle sales department head Kevin Nichols. Spin Bicycles owner Chad Cottom also agrees that the program could help people become more aware of the potential of bikes.
With the amount of support the project is receiving the group behind it is confident in its possibility. The group’s goals for the winter are to solidify some corporate sponsorships and figure out the project’s total costs. The group hopes to have the bike share program up and running by the spring of 2013.