GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — You see them on the streets of big cities like Chicago: brightly-colored bikes lined up on a rack, ready for rental.
While those bikes may appear to be a tourist attraction, Grand Rapids officials say they’re practical for the community.
“We always push a park once concept. So maybe you come downtown and you park on the west side of the river where it’s less expensive, and you can hop on a bike-share bike and go to your other destinations,” explained Kristin Bennett, Grand Rapids transportation planning and program supervisor.
After years of discussion, Grand Rapids may launch a bike-sharing program by next summer.
City leaders first talked about a bike-share program in 2017, but they decided to first create better paths for bikes to get around, like the new bike lanes along Century Avenue SW.
Bike-share programs usually involve bicycles parked in groups, often at hubs or stations. Riders rent the bikes for a period of time, then turned them back in.
Grand Rapids’ program may eventually include scooters and other “micro mobility vehicles.”
City planners say they’ll try to write safeguards into contracts with the company to avoid issues they’ve seen in other cities.
“They are smaller and the parking or docking of them… (the issue is) trying to keep it so they don’t become impediments to people on sidewalks,” explained Bennett.
She says the city is still trying to determine the taxpayer cost of partnering with a bike-share vendor.
“It’s just what’s the level or scale of that partnership,” said Bennett.
Next week, the city will collect information from potential partners, giving them a better idea on services and transportation options that are available. After sorting through that information, the city will begin soliciting bids for the service.