DULUTH — Come spring, the city could see an uptick in those pedaling around town thanks to a proposed bike-share program.
Zeitgeist, an arts and community development organization, is planning to start Duluth’s first bike-share system with stations in downtown, Canal Park and Lincoln Park.
The City Council voted Tuesday to grant the program $30,000 in tourism tax dollars, and Zeitgeist hopes to double that amount through corporate sponsorships and individual donations.
Tony Cuneo, Zeitgeist’s executive director, said the program would cater to both tourists and locals.
“We want a transportation system that works for all users, whether they’re eight years old or 88 years old,” Cuneo said.
In its application, Zeitgeist said the timing of the bike share launch would correspond with major construction projects — like the Superior Street renovations and the Twin Ports Interchange project on I-35 slated to start next year — that will complicate driving in parts of the city.
Duluth has long discussed following cities across the country with bike-share programs, including Minneapolis and some of its suburbs. The bikes could look familiar to those who have pedaled in Duluth’s twin port: Superior launched a bike-share program in September 2018 using the vendor Zagster, the same company Duluth is likely to partner with.
Superior Mayor Jim Paine said the Wisconsin city’s bikes have been ridden 816 times since its program’s initiation, a number he is pleased with. Superior has 20 bikes spread between four Zagster stations — one on Barker’s Island and one on the Millennium Trail Head, both geared toward recreational bikers, and as well as at City Center Park and the University of Wisconsin-Superior campus, which Paine said are used more for practical transportation purposes.
“We know it’s working for a lot of people,” Paine said. “It’s grown pretty significantly over the first year. Overall, it’s been pretty great.”
For its first year or two, Zeitgeist is looking at five docking stations that are mostly by the lake — away from some of the city’s most hilly routes. Cuneo said it could expand later to other parts of town, like the universities, the 4th Street business corridor and the eastern part of downtown, near Fitgers.
Cuneo said he doesn’t know how much consumers will pay to use the bikes, but he expects the amount to be minimal.
In Superior, bikes cost $1 for every 30 minutes of use, though there are also monthly and annual membership options that could cheapen the cost for frequent riders.
Both Cuneo and Paine said by using the same vendor, Duluth and Superior facilitate the possibility of linking the Twin Ports’ bike-share programs at some point, perhaps with bike-docking stations on either side of the Bond Bridge.