ArborBikes aim for chilly return.
by Patrick Dunn
From the October, 2018 issue
The ArborBikes may yet reappear this year. The three-year-old bike-share system went on hiatus last winter after its startup funding expired. The nonprofit Clean Energy Coalition passed responsibility for the system to the Ann Arbor Area Transportation Authority, and the custom-made bikes and docks spent the summer in storage as AAATA negotiated with prospective new operators.
According to a mid-September statement from AAATA CEO Matt Carpenter, the U-M, the city, and the DDA have since signed on as partners, a new operator has been selected, and contract language is being finalized. "Upon signing, the relaunch plan will be initiated, focusing on bringing the stations that are permanently installed online and potentially allowing on-campus operations through the winter," Carpenter writes. "Next spring is the plan for launching off-campus locations to allow time to discuss with the City the opportunities to allow year-round operations."
City transportation manager Eli Cooper, who sat on the committee that chose the new vendor, says they plan to begin operations using ArborBike's existing bikes and docks, "but they are open to innovation and new technology"--such as the dockless systems that have become popular elsewhere. Despite the late and wintry start, Cooper says, "The future looks rosy. Clearly, when you've got a new business coming in and they've got a proven track record, that is a reason for optimism."
In the meantime, Ann Arbor is not without shared two-wheel transit. Santa Monica-based Bird scooters popped up around town unbidden as classes began. According to MLive, the city is in negotiation with Bird about where the motorized scooters can be parked, and meanwhile has been confiscating those left blocking sidewalks.
[Originally published in October, 2018.]
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