Photo courtesy of MoGo Detroit
In May, The PeopleForBikes Foundation (PFB), as part of the Better Bike Share Partnership, made Emergency Response Grants available to nonprofit or city-owned shared mobility operators to support operating or program costs during the COVID-19 pandemic.
At the height of this virus, many bike share systems were forced to shut down, leaving residents without a safe way to commute. Thankfully, that wasn’t the case for every system, including the ones PFB and BBSP were able to support! These are the stories of how they served their community throughout an unprecedented pandemic.
In our last post, we shared stories about support for healthcare and essential workers. Let’s turn the page and check out how Colorado Springs and Detroit provided bike share access to everyone.
Colorado Springs and Detroit: Providing Access &Safety With Bike Share
Of our 13 grantee recipients, four of them created initiatives to support everyone in their community. Today, we’re covering the first two:
The only bike share system servicing Colorado Springs, PikeRide’s mission is to elevate the community by providing a fun, healthy, planet-friendly and cost-effective way to get around.
Since COVID-19, Executive Director Jolie Nesmith and her three-person staff have gone above and beyond to carry out the mission by offering several creative solutions to the commuting challenges posed by the pandemic:
- Free unlimited 30-minute rides: Anyone in PikeRides’ community was welcomed to free unlimited 30-minute rides. All they had to do was download the Drop Mobility app and set up an account to get started. (Single trips lasting longer than 30-minutes accrued charges of $0.15 per minute.)
- PikeRide for deliveries: To support businesses within their service area, PikeRide provided free and unlimited use of its e-assist bikes to help them provide their own delivery service.
- Adopt-a-PikeRide bike for employees of Penrose St. Francis and UCHealth Memorial Hospital: PikeRide employees dropped off a bike and charger at the home of any Penrose St. Francis or UCHealth Memorial Hospital employee living within the coverage area (or really close to it) for free! Besides commuting to work, the bikes were encouraged to be used for recreation or joy rides.
With three staff members on the field, it took no time for PikeRide to see close to 800 rides. Nesmith also reported that more than a dozen people reached out for a bike within three days of launching the Adopt-a-Bike program. Plus, PikeRide’s small but mighty team even supports delivery to seniors every Thursday in collaboration with Colorado Springs Food Rescue.
Since this initiative, PikeRide continues to support its community by providing everyone one free 15-minute per day. Jolie Nesmith, PikeRide’s Executive Director, says:
“Providing a single-passenger reliable option for transportation and recreation at this time is invaluable. We have people using our bikes for commuting purposes but also as a responsible way to exercise and recreate in our city during a time of extreme stress. With the support of the Better Bike Share Partnership and PeopleforBikes, it is truly amazing to be able to provide a free, fun, healthy and planet-friendly way for getting around town on a bike.”
Since its launch three years ago, MoGo Detroit Bike Share has made notable strides in providing equitable bike share in a city where a large number of residents don’t have access to a vehicle.
With significant cuts in bus service during COVID-19 and growing concerns for individual health and safety while using traditional public transportation, it became that much more important to the MoGo team to keep bike share operational during the pandemic as they figured out more ways to provide more people access to bike share.
MoGo announced a free Monthly Pass for all riders on March 30, which was intended to support commuting essential workers or anyone needing physical activity.
After launching the program in March, MoGo’s Founder and Executive Director Lisa Nuszkowski told BBSP in May that MoGo had given away 285 passes. (During peak season ridership, MoGo typically has about 100 active monthly members.)
In addition to the free Monthly Pass, MoGo worked on a few other projects:
- MoGo entered a partnership with the City of Detroit to help distribute and maintain up to 400 e-bikes donated by General Motors and GenZe.
- The e-bikes were given to essential workers in health care and supporting fields.
- MoGo’s operations staff stored the bikes, developed a process with the City to distribute them, and provided free maintenance.
While different than bike share, MoGo is glad to use its expertise to get reliable active transportation in the hands of people who need it.
Overall, MoGo wanted to ensure people could access safe, affordable and reliable transportation throughout the crisis. Lisa Nuszkowski says:
“Since our launch three years ago, MoGo has worked hard to establish itself as a reliable, accessible transportation option in Detroit. It was important that we keep bike share operational during the pandemic to ensure not only essential workers could use bike share to get to work, but that people had access to bikes for exercise, health, and well-being.”
A brief survey is currently underway to learn more about how people who took advantage of MoGo’s free Monthly Pass used bike share during the COVID-10 crisis.
Ridership Increases or Decreases
Jolie Nesmith, PikeRide’s Executive Director: Yes! [There’s been] tremendous increase. We have had [more than] 500 new users since giving away our free 30-minute rides. Last year at this time, we still had our purple pedal bikes, so it is hard to tell if our 40% increase in rides is entirely because of free rides or a combination of now offering e-bikes and free rides.
Lisa Nuszkowski, MoGo’s Founder & Executive Director: It’s difficult to say [if there’s been a ridership increase or decrease]. Our ridership in March was up year-over-year but was down in April. We think that the decrease in April ridership can be attributed to unseasonably colder temperatures — because when the weather has been nice, we have seen significant spikes in ridership.
Courtesy of PikeRide
Jolie Nesmith, PikeRide’s Executive Director: PikeRide has been very well received during this pandemic and we have seen lots of happy people on bikes. We are seeing our bikes used for longer rides on the weekends and evenings, which is likely indicative of an increase in recreational use. We are humbled to see our community using PikeRide to get outside and support mental and physical health during these challenging times. We also have seen significant changes in our neighborhood station use as more people are staying home while some of our historically busy stations in downtown became less used. Seeing the impacts of COVID-19 from a bike share perspective has been informative and we love seeing the increase of butts on bikes in Colorado Springs regardless of where or how people ride.
Lisa Nuszkowski, MoGo’s Founder & Executive Director: Here’s some data [on] the Free Monthly Pass as well as a quote from one of our riders who purchased one:
- Total trips taken from March 30 to present: 11,269
- Total Free Monthly Pass trips from March 30 to present: 4,312 (38%)
- Total number of passes “sold” (includes people buying more than one or renewing): 923
- Total unique passes “sold”: 852
Anonymous rider quote:
“I am eternally grateful for the free month! I would have no safe way to travel (I don’t trust the safety of public buses during this pandemic). It is GREAT for exercise and I take my dog for runs with me when I go too. It’s a safe escape from the perils at home when we must be socially distant and isolated….we appreciate your generosity during these trying times.”
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Stay tuned for the next post about the awesome work our grantees are doing! In the meantime, tell us what you learned from how these cities approached COVID-19! Reach out on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
The Better Bike Share Partnership is a JPB Foundation-funded collaboration 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 firstname.lastname@example.org