With the snow mostly melted and the sidewalks visible again, the Ann Arbor bike share program ArborBike is back.
On Friday, the nonprofit Clean Energy Coalition, in collaboration with the University, the city of Ann Arbor and the Ann Arbor Area Transportation Authority, reopened ArborBike for the season. The service, which is a bike share program serving both students and residents, first launched in the fall.
ArborBike consists of a set of stations around the city and campus that have bikes available for temporary use. At the end of an hour, users return the bikes to one of the ArborBike stations.
The program has five kiosks on campus and another at the Ann Arbor Public Library’s downtown branch. Eight more stations will be added by late May to expand the program off campus.
The fall 2014 season ended with 293 users and 690 trips over the two-month period before biking season ended. According to an ArborBike press release, ArborBike expects membership to increase dramatically this round due to both an extended summer 2015 season and an increased number of bike stations in downtown Ann Arbor.
The Clean Energy Coalition is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization that aims to promote the expansion of clean energy technology in Michigan communities.
In an e-mail interview, Heather Croteau, a project associate at the Clean Energy Coalition and program manager of ArborBike, said she predicts the bike share program will have a positive impact on the city based on results in other communities that have bike shares.
“It’s an excellent addition to the community and the first system of its kind in Michigan,” Croteau said. “The impact is yet to be seen/determined but in other communities with bike share programs, the systems have become a major asset that users come to rely on to get around.”
Croteau also noted that ArborBike provides a healthy alternative to driving.
“ArborBike adds a non-motorized option and additional diversity to Ann Arbor’s transportation systems,” she said.
Riders may set up memberships for day, month and year passes at ArborBike.org, with fees starting at $6 per bike rental. Additional fees apply for those who use bikes for more than 60 minutes at a time.
On campus, ArborBike kiosks are located at the North Campus Recreation Building, at Murfin Avenue and Bonisteel Boulevard across from Pierpont Commons, Zina Pitcher Place and Catherine Street, by the Central Campus Recreation Building and near South Quad.
Councilmember Julie Grand (D–Ward 3) said ArborBike is a positive addition to Ann Arbor.
“I think it can really help encourage folks who maybe are a little hesitant about biking, and think that they would like to try it,” said Grand. “It gives them the opportunity to get out on a bike in a more high traffic area and see if it will work for them.”
Grand said she hopes ArborBike will encourage residents to consider using bikes as a method of transportation to work or to school. Grand also said she thinks ArborBike will benefit people visiting the city, providing them with an alternative to renting a car.
“They’ll have another option other than having to rent a car… and get around on a bike, which is exciting, and go out and see not just campus but some of the great amenities, things like our parks and other recreational amenities that the city has to offer.”