Backers of bike sharing program in Detroit to conduct feasibility study

A fleet of bicycles from Minneapolis' Nice Ride program features advertisements for Blue Cross Blue Shield of Minnesota, one of the program's primary sponsors.

A few months ago, we told you about a group of organizations and businesses that were meeting to discuss the idea of bringing bike sharing, a service that allows users to rent bikes between a series of drop-off points, to Detroit.

Now, the Huffington Post reports that backers have now raised money to conduct a feasibility study, the next step forward toward determining whether such a system could be viable and how exactly it might be designed.

$45,000 has now been raised for a feasibility study since discussions over a potential program began in April. The Hudson Webber Foundation has contributed $25,000 to the undertaking through a grant and the rest is being covered by the coalition’s other partner organizations.

The analysis would determine whether a bike-sharing program could be effective in Detroit and offer recommendations on how to best implement one. Although no firm plans have been set, (Lisa) Nuszkowski said such a program could potentially connect hotspots like downtown, Midtown, Eastern Market, Corktown and several other neighborhoods in the greater downtown area.

Nuszkowski, who works in Wayne State University’s Office of Economic Development, says the backers hope to hire a consultant to conduct the study by mid-October. The study is expected take about three or four months to complete.

“We’ve narrowed down the finalists based on the proposals we’ve received, and they came in and did their presentations yesterday,” she said.

Backers of the plan, including Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan and several other large employers, envision the service helping college students, out-of-town visitors, business professionals and residents who lack their own bikes more easily navigate between interest points in Detroit. It’s intended to complement the city’s patchwork public transportation options.

Bike sharing programs in other U.S. cities, including Washington D.C., Minneapolis-St. Paul and Denver, have been financed through a combination of federal funding, corporate sponsorships and user fees.

For more, read the Huffington Post story or our previous story on A Healthier Michigan.

Photo by taestel



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