Clinton CVB Expands MyBike Share System with RBCF Grant

The city of Clinton is offering a new way for residents and visitors to enjoy the outdoors. The Clinton Convention and Visitor’s Bureau (CVB) piloted an Iowa-grown bike share program this summer and has expanded the project thanks to a grant from the River Bluff Community Foundation (RBCF), an affiliate of the Community Foundation of Greater Dubuque.

“Grant committee members supported this project because it is a wellness-related city project that most everyone, including visitors to Clinton, can enjoy and participate in,” said Alma Mariano, RBCF philanthropy coordinator.

MyBike Share System consists of 22 bicycles uniquely engineered by a startup at Iowa State University, eight docking stations and a smartphone app called KoloniShare, also created in Iowa. App users can lock and unlock the bicycles for use on Clinton’s 14 miles of riverside trail and can even ride to neighboring communities of Camanche and Fulton, IL.

“We wanted something organized, unique and sustainable,” said Mary Seely, CVB director. As it turns out, she and CVB marketing coordinator Ari Lewerenz didn’t have to look far.

“There are other programs we could have acquired, but we wanted to support Iowa,” said Lewerenz.

The ISU-engineered bikes are lighter than an average bike share cycle and have special security features that make them impossible to disassemble without a special key held only by the bike share owner. Their paint is graffiti-proof, and they are weather-resistant.

The app takes care of payment — at a rate of $1 per hour — and provides the CVB with a wealth of statistics. For example, those stats tell Seely that at a docking station in an industrial area of town, employees are regularly taking bikes out to exercise over lunch. She can see exactly where the bikes are ridden thanks to GPS trackers on each cycle, and she can access user demographics.

During the 2018 season, the system averaged nine to 12 rides per week. Seely expects that number to rise dramatically with the grant-funded addition of three new bikes and a docking station for six at the newly-opened Pangaea International Academy.

This fall, students from China are attending grades 9 through 11 at the academy and are residing on-site at the former campus of Ashford University. “They don’t have drivers licenses, because they’re international students,” Seely explained. “This grant is going to allow us to purchase docking stations and bikes for those students to get wherever they need to go. The bikes will be added to the system when the season re-opens next spring.

“It’s opening up an avenue for these students that wasn’t there prior to us bringing in this bike share program,” Seely went on. “I see the impact being one where we are going to have to move more bikes and docking stations out there.”

MyBike has also paved the way for new partnerships. Nearby cities Camanche and Fulton bought in to Clinton’s program so that users could dock bikes in their communities. Seely is working on an initiative with companies to provide incentives for employees exercising on their breaks. She’s also been fielding calls from other cities looking to MyBike as a model for their own bike share programs. Next spring, the CVB will hire an intern to manage the project.

Though Seely and Lewerenz are thrilled to share their model with others, at the heart of the program was a simple desire to create an amenity in which the whole community could take ownership and pride. “MyBikes are everyone’s bikes,” says Lewerenz.

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