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Electric, Connected Bikes Expand Accessibility

E-bikes make riding accessible to all & manage hills with ease. Web-connected bikes are available when & where they are needed.

Photo of Terence Duncan
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This system encourages bike usage, by making bikes available and accessible.  The bikes are "free-floating", meaning they are left and locked wherever the rider is when they finish a ride.  The bike's GPS allows a fleet operator to know where the bikes are at all times.  

This system is especially intended for students attending classes downtown.

Like docked systems, those taking advantage of a bike ride opportunity in a free-floating system are opportunistic users (They are out and about… they see a bike and decide to ride it). So, the system needs to appeal, primarily, to spontaneous need, rather than a “planned” ride activity.

Free-floating systems rely on the honorable use of those who patronize them.  It is all too easy to take bikes out of authorized zones, or park them illegally or leave them in unsightly condition.  Rider encouragement and Operator safeguards need to be designed into the system to keep it “ordered” and unobtrusive.

Authorization/payment:

Riders will access the system, utilizing a smartphone app.  This app will allow the user/rider to register/subscribe to the system by preauthorizing their credit card, or  other method of payment.  Some riders will want to register on the spot (“guest” registration), so the process should be very fast.

Once the rider has been authorized to ride the bike, the smartphone is used to communicate with the bike’s rear wheel-mounted Smart Lock, via Bluetooth.  The phone allows the bike to be unlocked.  Locking is done manually and can be done independent of the smart phone.

 

 

Describe who will use your solution (1,000 characters)

#1 - Inter-urban Commuters: College students and those visiting the downtown area • Public transportation first and last mile • To and from parking (sporting and entertainment events, attended by out-of-towners) • To and from parking (university students) These customers will spontaneously take a conveniently located bike, if they are walking, or park a car near where there are available bikes if they are driving in to the urban area. #2 - Intra-urban point-to-point riders: (people who live and work in the downtown area) • Shopping • Commuting (to work/school) • Corporate (building to building, lunchtime use) • Riding into residential areas (end of day)

Describe your solution's stage of development

  • Ready to Scale - you have completed and expanded your pilot and are seeing adoption of your solution by your intended user

Tell us about your team or organization (500 characters)

Genze is an Ann Arbor company that manufactures smart-connected 2-wheelers. We are fully staffed with Designers and Engineers and can work with a local partner to see this through.

Size of your team or organization

  • 51-250

Funding Request

  • $100,000

Describe how you would pilot your idea (1000 characters)

$60K would be used to deploy a fleet of 30 e-bikes on and around the GVSU facilities downtown. The remaining $40K would be used to promote the system and kick-start a fleet "operator". The operator could be the University, the Rapid (GR's Transit System), or a third party for-profit (or non-profit) entity. GenZe would provide fleet maintenance assistance, technical assistance and fleet analytics during the pilot. Analytics would help the operator understand usage patterns and rider demographics. This information will be useful for scaling the system after the pilot. Scalability should be relatively easy, given that the fleet, fleet management software, rider apps and revenue collection capabilities will be established during the pilot.

Describe how you would measure the success of your pilot (1000 characters)

The pilot will be considered a success, if it encourages students to ride the bikes as first/last mile solutions to the GR Rapid system. Ideally, it would help eliminate the need for students who live downtown (or in adjoining neighborhoods) to own/access automobiles. Success will also be evident, if a third-party fleet operator is able to evaluate system profitability, wit the intent of taking over the system at the pilot's end.

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Photo of Tom Bulten
Team

Terence: Thank you for posting a proposal for a fleet of dockless e-bikes that are assembled in Michigan! The hills in and out of the Grand River valley can inhibit bicycle riding for some. E-scooter companies have crowd-sourced the charging problem: hiring local residents to find and charge batteries when they get low. Does GenZe take a similar approach?

Photo of Terence Duncan
Team

Hello Tom,

At the risk of sounding evasive, I would make this issue a priority for "learning" during the pilot. Ideally, we would try different schemes to identify the best solution. Crowd sourcing is a great idea. Another idea is to incentivize local businesses to charge batteries and swap them when riders bring in ones that are depleted. E-bike batteries are also quite small and fit easily into a backpack. This is an area ripe for experimentation.

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