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Fri August 9, 2013
Bike sharing programs return to Michigan
Okay, so we couldn't find any write-up online for it, but back in the 1980's Ann Arbor was home to the "green bike" program - an informal program set-up to share bikes.
From what we've gathered, bicycles were painted green and sprinkled throughout the University of Michigan's campus. They were never locked, and if you needed a bike you just found a green one and went on your merry way.
The "green bikes" didn't last long, and it took awhile for another bike sharing program to come to Michigan.
Last night, Ann Arbor's City Council voted to create a more formal bike share program, following in the footsteps of other cities like New York, Boston, Chicago, Minneapolis, Denver, Miami Beach, San Francisco, D.C., and Detroit.
The Ann Arbor program follows programs like those in D.C. and Boston.
In these East Coast cities, if you're a member the first 30 minutes are free. When you get to a bike hub, you plug in your member key and the bike is unlocked. You can return it to the same hub or to a different one closer to your destination. Capital Bikeshare and Hubway are two big bike share organizations in each city, respectively.
After the first half hour, most programs charge $1.50 for an additional 30 minutes, with rates increasing for the longer you keep it. That being said, if you have a 20 minute ride to work, there probably wouldn't be any additional fees, just return it to a different location that's near the office.
Listen to this story from All Things Considered in June about bike sharing in D.C.
In Detroit, bike sharing systems are being explored, too.
Wayne State University is exploring bike options for students.
Rock Ventures LLC and Quicken Loans, Inc. just started a bike share program that provides 48 bikes, but only for their 9,200 employees.
M-Bike is another group that promotes bicycling in the Metro Detroit area.
In June, M-Bike worked with Complete Streets (a national organization promoting street safety and accessibility) to evaluate Woodward Ave. Complete Streets looked at how the entire street could be improved for pedestrians and cyclists, all the way from the river to Pontiac.
Right now, Michigan is in 12th place for best states for biking by bicycling.com.
States were ranked based on legislation and enforcement, programs (like bike share programs), infrastructure and funding, education and encouragement, and evaluation and planning.
Improvements like those planned by M-Bike and Complete Streets could help kick up Michigan's ranking.
Back in the 1800s, Detroit was, according to itself, a golden metropolis for bicycles. In the 1898 city guide, information on biking came right after the list of city officials:
With perhaps the exception of Brooklyn, noted for its cycle paths, no other city in the country can compare with Detroit in the facilities which its offers for pleasant bicycle runs. The suburban runs are especially fine. Elsewhere mention has been made of the streets and avenues of the city, and they need only be referred to here in passing. Miles of excellent macadam extend in all directions leading to scenes of beauty and interest. The course around Belle Isle is famous but that is only one...to write of the attractions of the various cycle paths would be a long story.
The guide also included a list of city ordinances about biking policies. Here's one of them:
It shall be unlawful for more than three persons to ride abreast upon bicycles upon any highway or public place, or to ride curving to and fro thereon.
Got that? No curving to and fro on your bikes. Especially if you're using a bike share.
-- Lucy Perkins, Michigan Radio Newsroom
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