Bicycling has arrived in the Motor City.
While the press focuses on Detroit’s bankruptcy, Dan Gilbert and Quicken Loans continue to invest in Motown. Gilbert’s Rock Ventures, his umbrella holdings group for dozens of real estate investments and other businesses, has now gone a step further and shown commitment to employees’ well-being and schedule. Yesterday Rock Ventures launched a bike sharing program in tandem with Zagster, the six-year-old bicycle sharing service that is behind such programs in Chicago, Boston and Philadelphia.
According to a press release, 48 bicycles are available to about 9,200 employees working within Rock Venture’s properties and companies in downtown Detroit. For a city that once epitomized the American dream—a house with a two-car garage—this edgy employee benefit is a step in showing that Detroit’s slow, painful yet inspiring transformation is well underway.
Zagster certainly brings plenty of street, or road cred, to this bike sharing launch. Besides its involvement in city bicycle sharing programs, the company has launched similar programs at hotel properties, corporate campuses and universities with a client base ranging from Yale to Cisco. The company tailors each bike sharing service based on the organization’s needs. At Yale, for example, participants pay a $20 annual membership fee and can use the bike all day.
For the Detroit program, users have access to bikes at eight different locations within downtown Detroit’s core. For employees who need to visit another office quickly, grabbing a Zagster bike can save time as the city’s public transportation and taxi options are often lacking. Employees in turn have responded to the bicycling benefit with enthusiasm: according to the Detroit Free Press, 840 employees have signed up for the service and 185 rides have been completed—not bad for a first day. Using the service is even easier than bike sharing service in cities such as Washington: cyclists text “start” and the bicycle number to Zagster, the user in turn receives an access number, and then that bike is his or her set of wheels for the rest of the day, or until the bike is returned.
How this service will fare during Detroit’s harsh winters remains to be seen, but for now, Rock Venture’s rollout of this bike sharing scheme offers benefits other organizations should consider for their employees: exercise, a quick and hassle-free mode to transit between two points and a way to revitalize downtown Detroit and the Woodward Avenue corridor. One question must be asked, however, about bicycling in Detroit: for the city’s poorer citizens who still do not feel the effects of the new investment underway in the city, what kind of transportation will they score so they can get to work? Detroit’s public transportation system is pitiful—and too many citizens within the city’s 140 square miles lack reliable means to get from home to work.
Based in Fresno, California, Leon Kaye is the editor of GreenGoPost.com and frequently writes about business sustainability strategy. Leon also contributes to Guardian Sustainable Business; his work has also appeared on Sustainable Brands, Inhabitat and Earth911. You can follow Leon and ask him questions on Twitter or Instagram (greengopost).
[Image credit of Downtown Detroit: Leon Kaye; Image credit of bicycle: Zagster]