7.23.15: Spoke Folks will launch a bike-sharing service
GRAND RAPIDS, MI (Mlive)– A couple new employees were preparing a fleet of new bicycles earlier this week at The Spoke Folks on Logan Street SW. The brown and gray vehicles were herded into packs around the shop floor, with two at a time hoisted into the air for fine tuning.
On Thursday, July 23, the nonprofit co-op expects the bicycles to be ready to “set them free in the city” for an app-based bike-share service it’s launching in downtown Grand Rapids.
“We have 65 right now. We found the bikes we wanted to use and we bought all of them we could that are in the country,” said David Bell, a mechanical engineer who’s an investor in a for-profit venture that hired The Spoke Folks to operate the bike-share service.
“In the spring we’re targeting 400 to put on the street, which is I think the right number. From our research that’s what Grand Rapids will be able to support.”
As city administrators evaluate a consultant’s recommendation to start a bike-share service that could cost as much as $2 million, Bell and his partners are teaming with The Spoke Folks to get a private program off the ground now. Instead of building stations to dock bike-share bicycles, as a consultant suggests, they’re using a Spokefly app and existing bike racks around downtown.
Customers can download the app to their phone, use it to find a bike nearby and get the combination to the bike lock, and pay for their ride. The fee will be $1 per ride, plus 15 cents per minute.
A 10-minute ride will cost $2.50, for example. A 30-minute ride will cost $5.50. Keep a bike for an hour and you’ll pay $10.
The service offers 8-speed bikes from Breezer Bicycles, each with a bell and basket for any carry-on bags. Helmets are not provided. There will be 65 bikes to start and a few hundred more on the way next year.
“We want it to be you can walk out (of a building) and see the bike,” said Jay Niewiek, director of The Spoke Folks. “These will be scattered across the city, locked up to regular bike racks.”