GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — City commissioners may answer a $100,000 question at their next meeting: Are bicycle sharing programs right for Grand Rapids?
Pending the commission’s approval, the $100,000 would go toward hiring a consultant to study putting bike share programs in the city. The Downtown Development Authority, which captures property taxes from downtown businesses and other property owners, is chipping in $30,000. The city Parking Services Department, using revenue from certain downtown parking lots, would pick up the rest.
City officials say it would be money well spent.
“We’re really doing all of our homework first,” Mobile GR and Parking Manager Josh Naramore said. “You do the feasibility plan to identify where, what it looks like, how you stage it, and also evaluate what’s the best way to operate it.”
Bike sharing is a relatively new concept used in mostly large cities. It idea is that if you want to get around on two wheels, you would pick a bike from a rack, peddle from Point A to point B, then leave the bike at another rack.
“Bike share is really a way for anyone to be able to get on a bike and ride from station to station,” Naramore said.
The study would allow the city to set the rules so eventual operators aren’t just doing business downtown.
“You go into the neighborhoods and you look at areas where there’s low car ownership, high unemployment rates,” Naramore said, “and actually use it as a tool and use bike share as a way to access employment as well as provide mobility options to people who wouldn’t have them otherwise.”
Naramore said that regardless of who runs the programs and how, there will still be a need for public money. He said setting a framework may help avoid any waste of those dollars.
“It’s mostly doing our homework on the front end to evaluate all of these things and make sure we’re very clear about what we want to achieve through this process,” Naramore said.