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Science and Innovations

City, NAU Launch Pilot Bike-Sharing Program

Ryan Heinsius

Flagstaff residents and visitors can now use a smartphone app to borrow a bright orange bicycle. The six-month pilot program is run by a company called Spin, in partnership with the City of Flagstaff and Northern Arizona University. KNAU’s Melissa Sevigny reports.

Spin has contracts to place 450 bicycles around the city and university campus. The bikes are equipped with GPS trackers and can be checked out with a smartphone app. Spin charges a dollar an hour, or half-price for anyone with an NAU email address.

Erin Suzanne Stam, NAU’s director of parking and shuttle services, says, "Through the bike share program, it offers one-way transit. So you literally can rent the bike for the 15-20 minutes you need it, and leave it wherever is your end point."

On campus the bikes must be left in a bike rack; elsewhere they can be left on sidewalks as long as they’re out of the way. People who break those rules can be barred from using the app. Stam says the program required no new infrastructure or financial investment from the city or university.

Nicole Antonopoulos, the City of Flagstaff’s sustainability manager, says, "We know that the transportation sector is the largest contributor to greenhouse gas emissions in the Flagstaff community. So we need to look at a variety of options that provide our community with alternatives to driving. But it is also an opportunity for people to experience our community in a different way."

Antonopoulos says the city will evaluate the program over the next six months. They’re asking for comments via an online survey. Similar bike sharing programs have happened in other cities with mixed reviews.

Melissa joined KNAU's team in 2015 to report on science, health, and the environment. Her work has appeared nationally on NPR and been featured on Science Friday. She grew up in Tucson, Arizona, where she fell in love with the ecology and geology of the Sonoran desert.
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