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Outdoor bike rack:Bike sharing coming to Port Huron

Port Huron will be rolling out a bike-sharing program by the first week of July.

The $36,000 program will feature 20 bicycles across four different sharing ports in Port Huron. The bike ports will be located at the Blue Water Transit Center, St. Clair County Community College student center, Blue Water Convention Center, and outside of the Community Foundation of St. Clair County.

To rent the bicycles, customers download an app on their phone and input credit card information before unlocking the bicycle from the rack. Riders can cruise around Port Huron and return the bikes to any port location.

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The program is being spearheaded by Blue Water Area Transit, which applied for a Michigan Department of Transportation grant and received $12,000 to go towards the cost. Blue Water Area Transit also kicked in $6,000 of its own dollars, in addition to $4,500 each from SC4, Fletcher Fealko Shoudy Law Firm, Port Huron Downtown Development Authority, and the Blue Water Area Convention and Visitor Bureau.

Dave McElroy, Blue Water Area Transit finance director, said the first year will be a pilot program to see how it fits in with the city. He said the coming year will tell if the program is self-sustainable through bike-sharing revenue or if the program will need continued sponsorships to carry it through.

The transit center will contract with Zagster, a bike-sharing company. Zagster will be responsible for the continued maintenance and liability insurance. Zagster operates bike-sharing at dozens of cities and other sites across North America, including Flint, Detroit and Windsor.

The program captures all usage fees to reinvest into continuing the program from year to year.

Port Huron City Manager James Freed said bike-sharing programs are the future for progressive communities. Freed announced the program to the DDA Tuesday morning and the authority voted to approve its $4,500 bike sponsorship for the coming year.


Kurt Eppley, Alpine Cycles owner and DDA member, said he believes the program will tie together transportation needs in downtown Port Huron, connecting river walk-goers to the downtown.

The second phase of the program would come the following year and hopefully extend into the neighborhoods of Port Huron. Freed said he can imagine a station being installed at locations such as the Kroger on 24th Street, among other locations.

The cost to rent the bicycles has not yet been decided, but customers will be able to rent bikes on an hourly and daily basis, as well as sign up for an annual membership for unlimited bike riding access. The annual membership is expected to cost $40 to $50 a year. Freed said he expects local companies to even buy bulk annual memberships for their employees.

Matt Brooks, Loft 912 owner, said he first saw similar programs operating in Grand Rapids and is happy to see the momentum being brought to Port Huron.

“As more amazing places continued to open in and around downtown Port Huron, bike sharing seemed like the ideal solution to get people around, whether they’re locals or tourists,” Brooks said. “It feels great to see another idea come to life in this community.”

Eppley said his only concern is accessibility to bike helmets. The program does not supply renters with helmets, and he feels that could be a big safety concern.

Eppley said as the owner of a local bike shop, he is a big advocate for bike safety and helmet usage for all riders.

“I don’t know how exactly yet, but I think there is a way that we will be able to offer helmets to those renting,” he said.

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