Flanked by a table of pizzas, a plentiful supply of yellow beer, and a diverse crowd from around the metro area, MoGo Detroit founder and Executive Director Lisa Nuszkowski beamed, introducing her team at the bikeshare company.
The occasion on May 23 helped celebrate the one-year anniversary of the organization that promotes individual and independent mobility.
“We have logged 136,000 rides this year and we couldn’t have done that without every single one of you,” she says.
A massive amount of investment in “the 7.2,” a reference to the number square miles at the center of metro Detroit’s, has combined with a strong outreach strategy to build an effective bikeshare system.
The goal is to complement Detroit Department of Transportation (DDOT) services, Southeast Michigan Area Regional Transit (SMART) buses, inter-city rail, and the QLINE to provide increased mobility to residents. At the same time it addresses what transit planners call the “last mile” problem of connecting commuters in that last section of a trip that isn’t quite served by transit.
MoGo’s 136,000 rides embarked from 43 bike stations, representing one ride for every five Detroiters, and there is room to grow. Compare Detroit to New York City, whose Citi Bike system opened in 2013 with 10 times more stations and boasts 62,000 riders per day.
Perhaps MoGo’s biggest selling point is it is an affordable and accessible way to travel between centrally located points whenever walking is impractical or when one doesn’t own a car. An $80 annual membership includes unlimited rides of 30 minutes or less between bike docks, compared with about $10,000 per year the average American spends on car expenses.
Rory Lincoln, MoGo’s director of programming & operations, says demand is critical to making the effort work.
“It’s nice to have an easy, affordable option, especially in a city with 60,000 carless households,” he says.
The recurring theme is Detroiters need access to reliable transportation. Where DDOT and SMART are unreliable, bikes are accessible, affordable transportation to jobs, shopping, healthcare, and school.
While MoGo may be less practical for commuters traveling a longer distance, especially outside the footprint of docking stations, those to whom it is geographically accessible may also qualify for a $5 “Access Pass” open to eligible members who receive public assistance. Lincoln says the pass accounts for about 17 percent of MoGo’s total subscribing members, a product of a strong outreach strategy in a city that struggles with a need for better mobility.
Economic accessibility combines with the recent announcement of a select fleet of special tricycles and recumbent bicycles MoGo will offer cyclists who are physically unable to use the upright, step-through frames of most MoGo bikes.
Active living is also a key goal, part of the reason why Henry Ford Health System and HAP contributed to sponsorships for the platform, and Nuszkowski hopes increased funding will lead to better connectivity and help MoGo expand its footprint.
For more information on MoGo go to the website or Facebook page.
Editor’s note: This article is part of a series on transit and mobility in Southeast Michigan.