You'll have a new way to get around downtown Ann Arbor and the University of Michigan campus starting next week. The new bike sharing program ArborBike will launch as early as Tuesday. A lot of people have expressed interest in bike sharing, but it's unclear if this will translate into members.
About 50 bikes and six stations should be available for the soft launch of the ArborBike program. As soon as the program is operating everyone on ArborBike's mailing list will be notified, but organizers acknowledge they don't know how many will pay for a day, week, or annual membership.
ArborBike Program Associate Kevin Mulder says they have no specific expectations for members this fall, but there are encouraging signs. "All the events that we go to and set up an ArborBike display are very popular, people are asking a lot of questions which is great. I can tell you my personal experience from being at the install site that people walk by and they're checking out the kiosk, they're looking at the information, they're asking a lot of questions on site as well, which is really encouraging," he says.
Mulder says this year the bike share stations will be removed for the first big snow-fall to avoid damage from road salt. He says as programs in other cities like Chicago and Minneapolis gained popularity they shifted to year-round operations.
Users pay $3 for every 30 minutes they use a bike after the first hour.
The bike share program is a partnership with the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, the Ann Arbor Area Transportation Authority, and the Clean Energy Coalition. U of M has committed $600,000 for the program for the first three years so students and staff will receive a discounted membership.