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Implement a home-grown, dockless, peer-to-peer bike sharing network using open source technology.

A dock-less bike sharing system that empowers Grand Rapid citizens to share their own bikes with residents and visitors.

Photo of Varun Adibhatla
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Over the past few months, the proliferation of bicycles, electric scooters and a variety of personal and shareable mobility options has washed over cities in America.

Transportation Network Companies (TNCs) such as Uber and Lyft have successfully commoditized every individual trip on the roads that we citizens pay for through our taxes. 

Advances in open-source technology, low cost location sensing technology and a spirit to empower local communities  can enable a low-cost, peer-to-peer bike sharing network across the city.

Applied Research in Government Operations (ARGO) is a non-profit with a proven track record of delivering urban technology. ARGO is staffed by technologists driven by a purpose to empower cities and communities using technology.

ARGO is  proposing that Grand Rapids can implement and operate their own home-grown bike sharing network by developing a simple hardware kit and a simple mobile app to let Grand Rapids residents  to share each other's bikes.


Any Grand Rapids resident who wants share their bike can apply to the program. Upon application, they will receive a  hardware kit that includes:

  1. An internet connected bike lock or one that can be unlocked with a bluetooth connection.
  2. A low-cost location sensing system.
  3. A bike generator (for power) that sends the bike's location every 30 seconds. 

The resident will also receive a login for the system's mobile app to add details about their bike and include it on the network.

  • Upon verification and activation, the bike is ready to be shared.
  • Key features of this approach:
  • As the bike gets used, residents can earn income from their bike. 
  • The data generated by the system can be used by the city to create incentives for bike owners who are located in areas not served by public transit.
  • A citizen who shares an electric bike can make more income.

A rider:

  • Can either pay for the ride on the app or be a monthly subscriber
  • Opens the app and search for available bikes around them. 
  • Upon reserving the bike, they approach the bike to unlock it.
  • After the reservation expires, the bike should be locked at the destination. 
  • Any violations are paid to the owner.

Any repairs for the bike can be paid for by the city using a simple voucher system that can be used at any participating bike shops across the city.


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

Residents of and visitors to Grand Rapids. ARGO can train city employees on how to operate the system.

Describe your solution's stage of development

  • Prototype - you have built a prototype and tested it with potential users

Tell us about your team or organization (500 characters)

Applied Research in Government Operations (ARGO) is a non-profit organization with a proven track record of delivering urban technology. ARGO is staffed by credentialed urban technologists driven by a purpose to empower cities and communities using technology. Since 2015, ARGO has helped cities and municipalities build, operate, and maintain a public data infrastructure to help deliver local services, better.

Size of your team or organization

  • 2-10

Funding Request

  • $100,000

Describe how you would pilot your idea (1000 characters)

1. Procure a few versions of keyless bike locks, bike dynamos, and usb battery packs. 2. Prototype a simple mobile-app that stores unique-ids for bikes and sample user information. 3. Connect app to a payment system like stripe that is associated with a funded account. 4. We have already tested low-cost location sensing hardware and will need to integrate with the mobile app. 5. The important test would be to open the bike lock using the mobile app. This can be done using a code that is generated by the app.

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

ARGO will test the end-to-end sharing workflow by sharing a few bikes using the combination of of the hardware and app ecosystem. Successful shares will be measured and demonstrated to the funders.


Join the conversation:

Photo of Tom Bulten

Thanks for posting the proposal, Varun. I'll try to feature this idea in a weekly report. So, it would be great if you could upload an engaging photo in the next several hours. I also am including the link here to your post in the "Explore" phase of the Grand Rapids Challenge. It had generated some useful dialogue that others might be interested in reading ( I hope the conversation continues here in the "Propose" section.

Photo of Varun Adibhatla

Thanks Tom Bulten .

I've created a more engaging logo to describe the concept. Thank you for the support in featuring our proposal.