City considers bicycle rentals

By GABRIEL GOODWIN
Sunday Times Newspapers

WYANDOTTE — A proposed bicycle rent-and-ride service sparked the council’s interest Monday because it could provide residents with more mobility and the opportunity to become “resident tourists.”

Michael Paschke, an advisory board member for NuPath Community Credit Union, proposed the Zagster bike sharing concept to the council, as part of the credit union’s community outreach program, and said it could help the city become a “biking destination” for the Downriver area.

The city would not see any costs for providing the service, he said, because the credit union would cover all costs associated with implementing the service. Paschke said NuPath essentially would not make money from the service because the revenue would be used to maintain or replace the bicycles and racks.

“We see this as a great opportunity for the city to gain some positive exposure and a great opportunity for us to give back to the community.” he said. “The service provides an alternative mode of transportation and promotes healthier living.

“This would be a great start in promoting the city as a biking destination, and it is my belief that this would really help put Wyandotte on the map as a destination for young and active residents.”

The proposal asked council to approve a bike rental rack at Tongue’s coffee shop, 2958 Biddle Ave., then add more of these racks along Biddle in the future. He included three other locations along Elm Street but said he would like to focus on locations along Biddle Avenue because it is the main road in Wyandotte.

“Tongue’s was the perfect location, in our minds, for the first bike rack because it provides ample exposure,” Paschke said. “The owners were already considering a bike crawl around the city, so we approached them with this concept and they were very receptive to it. They became excited enough about it to offer a parking space, in front of their shop, for our first bike rack.”

The Zagster company began its bike rental service in 2007 and has set up roughly 550 rentals in 55 cities. The service costs $5 for a single day rental, but the company also had monthly and yearly membership options that cost $20 and $40, respectively.

Zagster is setting up its service in Detroit, Paschke said, where it will install asbout 10 bike racks and offer 60 rental bikes. He would like to see Wyandotte follow in those footsteps.

“Our vision and hope is to get a service to residents soon, so they can capitalize on the outdoor amenities, like the riverwalk and the bike path from Trenton to Wyandotte, available to them,” he said. “This service could draw a lot of people, from other communities, into the city and allow Wyandotte’s residents to explore the outdoor areas available in their own backyard.”

Councilwoman Sherri Fricke said she has experience using the program before and called it “a wonderful experience” because of its simplicity. She used the service while visiting Washington, D.C., and would like to see something similar happen in the city.

“All you have to do is sign up, pay, and get a code that unlocks a bike,” Fricke said. “The neat thing is how easy it is to go from one destination to another. I like this idea because it promotes healthy living and provides an easier way to get around. (This service) would bring more people to a downtown area, while giving everyone a chance to spread out into the community and enjoy time with their families.”

The council was reluctant to accept the proposal with the current bike rack location or the other three locations along Elm Street and asked for more time to consider its options. Councilman Ted Micuira said any proposal that could potentially take available parking away from the residents would need to be considered because “parking is already at a premium around the city.”

The council agreed there is definite interest in the idea and they would like to offer residents and visitors of the city as many transportation options as possible. They moved to address the proposal Nov. 11 after the Engineering Department and public safety officials were consulted about their recommended locations.

(Gabriel Goodwin can be reached at ggoodwin@bewickpublications.com.)

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