Detroit’s MoGo connects locals to bike share

by Stefani Cox

Open Door MoGo signup
Tabling for MoGo. Source: MoGo.

Inclusive goals for bike share are a great start, but sometimes in order to reach everyone, systems have to get creative about outreach.

Under their BBSP mini-grant, Detroit’s MoGo bike share system partnered with three local organizations The NOAH Project, Fort Street Open Door, and Mariners Inn to expand understanding of MoGo and its discount program. Each nonprofit offers assistance to individuals facing housing instability. MoGo had previously been working with NOAH, tabling each month for a few hours.

While MoGo has long offered an Access Pass $5 annual membership, available to anyone who receives state benefits, much of the advertising for the program comes through digital marketing and/or marketing at MoGo events. The bike share system wanted to find another outreach avenue for individuals who might not have regular computer access or know about events.

MoGo held events at each of the three locations in order to let clients know about the Access Pass and how to take advantage of it. Participants could also try out the bikes at the station and through group rides. Through the grant funding, MoGo was able to waive the $5 fee and any overage charges for these particular members.

Open Door ride MoGo
Fort Street Open Door group ride. Source: MoGo.

As of July, 1,045 were taken by Access Pass holders that signed up through events with the three nonprofits. These members used bike share to get to bus transit, appointments, recreation, and more.

Aside from prior lack of knowledge about how to use bike share affordably, many of the participants were challenged by the need to bring all of their belongings with them at any one point in time. The promotional drawstring bags that MoGo handed out ended up being essential for addressing the issue.

It also took time and repeat appearances before participants were willing to trust MoGo and the deal that the Access Pass offers.

“I would speak to the whole group at the beginning of my visit, give the context, and hand out swag,” said Rory Lincoln, Director of Programming and Operations with MoGo. “Each week people got more used to seeing me.”

MoGo rider
A rider who was initially skeptical and ended up averaging over 50 rides a week. Source: MoGo.

Additionally, none of the members who signed up through the partnership had a credit or debit card that they could connect to their account, meaning the cash payment option that MoGo provides is critical to their ability to use the system.

This past May for the first time, MoGo achieved a 20% rate of Access Pass holders out of all MoGo members. The number was a long-time goal of the bike share system, in order to serve the large percentage of residents in Detroit who struggle with lower incomes.

The Better Bike Share Partnership is funded by The JPB Foundation as a collaborative between the City of Philadelphia, the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia, the National Association of City Transportation Officials (NACTO) and the PeopleForBikes Foundation to build equitable and replicable bike share systems. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram or sign up for our weekly newsletter. Story tip? Write