Grand Rapids city commission approves $100,000 bike-share study

Posted at 8:50 PM, Feb 21, 2017
and last updated 2017-02-21 20:51:06-05

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — The Grand Rapids City Commission approved a study that would test the feasibility of a bicycle-sharing program in the city.

In a close vote, the commission voted 4-3 to pass it Tuesday.

The study will be conducted by Sam Schwartz Engineering. It’ll cost $100,000, with the bill being split between Mobile GR ($70,000) and the Downtown Development Authority ($30,000), which is funded by downtown businesses. The study will look at how other cities similar to Grand Rapids run their bike sharing program, as well as map out service areas and how a program would be implemented.

A bicycle-sharing system allows for people to rent bikes from automated bike racks placed around the city using a mobile app. They can be checked out from one area and returned at another hub somewhere in the city. Cities such as Chicago and Washington D.C. have bike sharing programs.

Commissioners Ruth Kelly, Joseph Jones, Jon O’Connor joined Mayor Bliss in greenlighting the study.

Kelly says she supports it because it’s part of the planning processes they’ve done over the years, adding that past biking projects have failed because the bike lanes weren’t connecting. She says plenty of people struggle in using their bikes to get into the city, and that a bike share would relieve parking issues downtown.

Voting against the study were commissioners Dave Shaffer, Senita Lenear, and David Allen. Lenear says that starting a bike sharing program is not going to help people use bikes more.

Commissioner Allen says he voted against it because he believes the money can be better spent elsewhere, like by paying for bus passes for poor people to get downtown.