May 3 2013 12:00 AM

Funding still needed for community bike-share program, but prospects look good

Sam Inglot/City Pulse

Friday, May 3 — Come August, Lansing could be the pilot city for a new company that wants to start a community bike-sharing program here.

The Capital Community Bike Share involves 20 shareable bikes for rent throughout Lansing. The process has been two years in the making.

“We’re really excited about it,” said Lynne Martinez, a former state representative from Lansing who gave a presentation on the proposed pilot program today. “Every place I go I am amazed more and more about how many people want to have the opportunity to ride bikes more in the community.”

Ann Arbor-based A2B, a startup company dedicated to bike-sharing programs, would launch its first effort in Lansing. Martinez, who was speaking at a luncheon hosted by the Mid-Michigan Environmental Action Council, said the program still needs funding.

For $30,000, A2B would provide 20 bikes and 40 racks for the pilot program. The bikes would be equipped with a GPS, smartphone technology and a handlebar keypad — all powered by a solar panel attached to the rear end of the bike — that would allow people to rent bicycles with a credit card.

The bikes would be secured at strategically located bike racks that could be used by members of the CCBS as well as the public. A mobile phone app would allow people to see where bikes are available throughout the city. When a rider is done with a bike, they’d simply return it to one of the 40 racks throughout the area and lock it back up. The rental transaction would be fully automated, so there would be no need for on-site staff.

For the pilot program, the CCBS would focus on putting bikes and racks throughout Michigan Avenue, REO Town, Old Town and Lansing Community College. Those locations were chosen based on a CCBS survey conducted in 2011.

As for funding, CCBS officials will be meeting with the Ingham County Land Bank Board of Directors, the Tri-County Bicycle Association and the Lansing Economic Area Partnership early next week to try to secure grant money for the pilot. Martinez said the additional money would be made up through donations and pilot-membership fees, although the fees haven’t been determined yet.

Ingham County Treasurer and Land Bank Chairman Eric Schertzing, who also spoke during today’s event, is confident that the money will come through.

The pilot program would run from August to October, Schertzing said. He said A2B would use local bike vendors and mechanics to take care of maintenance of the bikes.

Throughout the fall and winter after the pilot program, there will be a review of user data, which is tracked by GPS on the bicycle’s keypad, to see where additional racks or bikes could be used. After that, the CCBS will try to secure additional funding and hopefully launch another expanded phase of the program in spring 2014.

“It’s going to be so much fun,” Martinez said. “People are gonna love this.”