The city of Berkley has two MoGo bike stations, including this one located at 12 Mile Road and Robina Avenue.

The city of Berkley has two MoGo bike stations, including this one located at 12 Mile Road and Robina Avenue.

Photo by Deb Jacques

MoGo sees positives, negatives in expansion during pandemic

By: Mike Koury | C&G Newspapers | Published August 11, 2020

 MoGo stations are fitted with informational signs that describe how people can pay for and ride one of the bikes.

MoGo stations are fitted with informational signs that describe how people can pay for and ride one of the bikes.

Photo by Deb Jacques


OAKLAND COUNTY — Last year it was announced that MoGo, the bike sharing service in Detroit, would be expanding to the cities of Ferndale, Berkley, Huntington Woods, Royal Oak and Oak Park.

The bikes finally arrived in their cities at the beginning of June this year. Unfortunately, they did so during a global pandemic. Because of COVID-19, MoGo stated that it’s been cleaning its bikes and kiosk stations and does encourage riders to wear protective gear, such as gloves and masks, and ride 6 feet away from other people.

Launching during a pandemic carries its own worries, as potential customers might be wary of using a public service that’s used by numerous people. It also could be popular as more and more people find themselves getting outdoors after the state’s stay-at-home executive orders ended.

While MoGo does not release specific ridership numbers, founder and Executive Director Lisa Nuszkowski said they were about what they expected them to be, which was about 2/3 trips per bike per day in the expansion area as compared to their numbers in greater downtown Detroit.

“We’re actually pretty pleased with that prediction,” she said.

Bringing the MoGo bikes to Berkley was the idea of its Downtown Development Authority. The city received two stations, while Ferndale had seven installed and Huntington Woods had one.

From a usage standpoint, Berkley DDA Director Jennifer Finney said they’ve “definitely been encouraging” people to use them.

“We’ve only had them for just a few months, so there’s gonna be a ramp-up period, and at least from a Berkley perspective, we’re still trying to educate people on MoGo bikes and how to use them and the different pricing options and things like that,” she said. “I’m hopeful come fall that we’ll have more and more people use them.”

Nuszkowski believes the launch was both positively and negatively affected by the pandemic, particularly early on when people were feeling cooped up from the stay-at-home orders.

“One of the few activities that was sort of consistent throughout that period of time that you could do was be outdoors and riding a bike and doing that responsibly,” she said. “I think that certainly encouraged more people, but on the flip side of that is that we don’t have any, really, of the major events that typically happen over the course of the summer that often will draw people to ride either to or from events like that, and so I think that that’s certainly impacted ridership in some ways.”

Finney also believed that the launch during the pandemic was negatively impacting ridership, as the DDA expected a high usage rate because of the number of bicyclists in and around Berkley.

“When MoGo reached out to me around April and they were looking to install these in June, the entire DDA board was just a little hesitant because of the pandemic going down,” she said. “Of course, there were a lot of questions about safety and how the bikes and the stations are getting cleaned, and the MoGo team, they’ve been really helpful. They come out daily, they wipe down the bikes, they wipe down the kiosks with disinfectant wipes, they have signage all over the place.”

“Given the fact that you’re sharing a bike with a stranger in theory, I’m sure for some people that’s a little off-putting in a way, but I can definitely see as we progress and as the state is reopening and even, hopefully, next summer when we have a vaccine, I definitely think the ridership in Berkley and the other surrounding cities will definitely increase,” she continued.

The contracts signed with the expansion cities were for five years, until 2024. As the nonprofit organization measures its success within these communities going forward, Nuszkowski said there are a lot of opportunities for bike share to connect with transit and to help get people to work over the next year if people return to a more normal work schedule.

That’s something they’re not able to see the impact of, given the current conditions of the world, she said. Nuszkowski also recognized something they’ve done less of is outreach and engagement in these communities out of a concern for health and safety, for both riders and staff.

“We really haven’t had the chance to do some of our typical outreach and engagement, which is why we’re so pleased with the results that we have seen, because we haven’t done the things we would typically do,” she said.

“We’re looking to do some more engagement once it’s safe to do so with the communities that we’re in, but I would say we’re overall really pleased with the ridership that we’re seeing now. Success for us is really growing the base of ridership, whether that’d be casual users who are trying it once or growing the base of people who buy longer-term memberships and are using it frequently as part of their routine. I think those are generally our goals, but we understand that those are obviously impacted by the circumstances that we’re in right now, and so given where we are, we’re really pleased,” she continued.

There are three different types of passes that MoGo customers can obtain to use the bikes: a monthly pass for $20 a month that comes with an unlimited number of 60-minute rides; an annual pass for $90 a month for an unlimited number of 60-minute rides; and the access pass, for $5 a year for an unlimited number of 60 minute rides, which is for people who receive state assistance. There also is a pay as you go option where a rider pays $1 to unlock the bike and then 25 cents per minute to ride it, and a prepaid option where a customer can purchase two hours of ride time for $18.