Since the first – and short-lived – bike-share system was established in Amsterdam in 1965, hundreds of similar systems have launched around the world, according to a continually updated digital bike-share map that University College London researcher Oliver O’Brien created in 2010. Many of these programs also offer scooters. These companies are often referred to as shared micro-mobility companies — micro-mobility refers to small, green vehicles like bikes, e-scooters and e-skateboards — rather than bike shares.
Across the U.S., the shared micro-mobility industry experienced significant dips in ridership during the pandemic. But as of 2021, many companies are back to their pre-pandemic ridership levels. Numerous Midwestern cities launched their own bike-share programs in the 2010s, and we collected information on six of these programs and scouted out the best city routes for you to ride, whether you’re on vacation and looking for a fun way to sightsee or live there and are just looking to get outside. All of the programs have discounted memberships for people who qualify for certain financial assistance programs – many have $5 annual subscriptions – so check those out if you are a resident of any of these cities and cannot afford their regular prices.
Keep in mind that the cities with day passes still limit the duration of single rides before charging you extra. CoGo in Columbus, for example, includes 30-minute rides in its day pass, which many users have complained about. That means that if you’re going to bike for an hour, you should dock your bike before the 30-minute mark and get a new one instead of riding one bike for the full hour. All of these companies have minimum age requirements, too, so make sure to check regulations before you start riding!
Toledo launched a bike-share program called ToleGo in October 2018 with 100 bikes and 18 docking stations. On Aug. 10, VeoRide took over in Toledo, and the city is now running a 10-month pilot program with the company. Toledo’s bike share docks remained the same, and Veo is offering 100 bikes, just like ToleGo, as well as scooters. Toledo has several bikeable trails, but ToleGO’s hubs are all located downtown, which makes it too far to get to a trail and bike much of it before 30 minutes are up. That makes Toledo’s bike-share program best for getting around downtown. Toledo doesn’t have many bike lanes, so watch out for traffic when you’re biking on streets! When you’re ready to ride, you’ll find a map here – and at the bottom of ToleGO’s homepage – that tracks which stations, or “hubs,” currently have bikes and which ones are empty.
Scooters will cost you $1 to unlock and an additional 35 cents per minute, while the bikes cost $0 to unlock and just $1 an hour to ride.
A suggested route:
ToleGO’s bike stations are near several of the city’s museums. For a museum day, start at the Toledo Museum of Art in the Old West End. The museum was founded by glassmaker Edward Drummond Libbey and has major collections of glass art, as well as many other exhibits and a large concert hall at which the Toledo Symphony Orchestra often performs. After your visit, pick up bikes at the museum’s ToleGO station and head to the National Museum of the Great Lakes on the east side of Toledo, three miles from the art museum. Head south on Jefferson Street — where there is a new two-way bike lane — until you reach North Summit Street, where you’ll take a left and then cross the Maumee River when you reach Cherry Street. The Martin Luther King Bridge has a sidewalk you can ride on if you don’t feel comfortable riding with traffic. Take a left on Riverside Drive and bike through the Glass City Metropark until you reach the museum at the tip of the park.
Divvy runs bike-shares in Chicago and Evanston, the northern suburb bordering the Windy City. In 2019, Chicago’s City Council approved a deal granting Lyft exclusive rights to operate Divvy. The agreement required Lyft to invest $50 million to modernize and expand the program by 2021 to areas of the city that have fewer stations and bike lanes, including the South and West Sides, which are disproportionately lower-income and non-white compared to Chicago’s North Side and downtown. Some Chicagoans criticized the deal, saying that it prevented bike-share programs from reaching the South and West Sides sooner, as other programs may have expanded faster than Lyft. We’re now seeing the tangible effects of Lyft’s investment: last summer and fall, Divvy added 78 new stations on the city’s Far South Side. And this July, the Chicago Department of Transportation (CDOT) kicked off a Divvy expansion on the Northwest and Southwest Sides.
Divvy now has over 600 stations and 6,000 bikes across Chicago and Evanston. The company offers single 30-minute rides for $3.30, day passes that include unlimited 3-hour rides for $15, and annual passes that include unlimited 45-minute rides for $108 – plus 25 cents a minute if you exceed 45 minutes. If you want to plan out your ride ahead of time, you can find a map of bike stations here, although in many parts of the city, there are enough stations to find one easily by walking around a bit.
A suggested route:
Chicago’s Lakefront Trail is an 18 mile-long paved pathway that stretches from the city’s northeast to southeast limits. Pick up the trail at one of Jackson Park’s several Divvy stations on the South Side, and bike past the park’s beaches, Japanese Garden, vegetable and flower gardens and cherry blossom trees, as well as the Museum of Science and Industry. Make your way north, through the outdoor gathering spaces in the Burnham Wildlife Corridor. Drop your bike at Divvy’s Fort Dearborn Drive and 31st St. station for a four-mile ride, or continue North past the Field Museum and Shedd Aquarium up to Millenium Park for an eight-mile ride. Continue two miles more to Oak Street Beach, where there’s a Divvy station at Michigan Avenue & Oak Street. If you continue on, keep close to the water to stay by the beach or bike through Lincoln Park to see the zoo. The paths eventually come back together about a mile and a half north at Belmont Harbor, five miles north of Millenium Park, where you can drop your bike at Lakeshore Drive and Belmont Avenue. North of that, there aren’t many more sights, but there are several beaches. Drop your bike at Lakefront Trail & Bryn Mawr, 3.5 miles north at the tip of the Lakefront Trail.
Milwaukee Ave., which Chicago installed protected bike lanes on in 2020, is a great bike ride, too, as is the 606, an three-mile elevated rail-trail that opened in 2015.
CoGo launched in 2013 and serves the city of Columbus. Since its inception, the company has expanded its number of bike stations from 30 to more than 80 and has doubled the number of bikes it has available from 300 to more than 600. Of those, 250 are e-bikes. As with Divvy and Nice Ride, Lyft now operates CoGo.
CoGo offers single 30-minute rides for $2.25, $8 day passes that include unlimited 30-minute rides, and an $85 annual membership that includes unlimited 45-minute bike rides – plus 10 cents a minute after that – and discounted prices on e-bike rides. The majority of CoGo’s stations are concentrated in the city’s downtown area, although they do branch into other parts of the city. When you’re ready to ride, you’ll find a map of the CoGo’s stations here.
A suggested route:
Scioto Trail: Columbus’ Scioto Trail was the city’s first greenway trail. Begin your trip at the Scioto Audubon Metro Park, where you can visit a climbing wall before your ride. Pick up a bike at CoGo’s station at the Scioto Audubon Center and head toward the river, where you’ll find the Lower Scioto Greenway. Bike north on the trail, keeping right of the river. A mile north of the center, you’ll pass Bicentennial Park Amphitheater and a fountain. There’s a CoGo station just north of the park at Front Street and Town Street if you want to explore the area on foot, or you can continue north on the greenway, where you’ll pass the Supreme Court of Ohio and City Hall. About a mile north of Bicentennial Park, you’ll reach North Bank Park Pavilion. You can drop your bike a couple blocks north at CoGo’s Neil Avenue & Nationwide Boulevard station or turn back the way you came. You can continue on the greenway too, but keep in mind if you do this that there are no CoGo stations further along the greenway, so you’ll have to circle back to the Neil Avenue and Nationwide Boulevard station to return your bike.
Fort Wayne, IN
VeoRide, a bike and scooter share company owned by Lyft, has returned to Fort Wayne to continue its pilot program after being on pause during the COVID-19 pandemic. Though initially offering just scooters, Veo expanded its operations in the summer of 2021 to include bikes. Fort Wayne residents can currently ride 500 shareable scooters and 100 bikes.
Scooters cost about $1 to unlock and 20 cents per minute of each ride, and bikes cost about $1 to unlock and 29 cents per minute of each ride, although prices may vary slightly by location. Both have a time limit of 30 minutes before they must be parked and docked, but another rental can be unlocked to continue the ride. A rental can be kept active for 48 hours, but users will be charged until they end their ride and park their vehicle in the correct docking station.
Pedal bike passes include a monthly pass for unlimited 1-hour rides at $28.99, a $6.99 day pass for unlimited 2-hour rides and yearly passes for unlimited two-hour rides, valued at $99.99. VeoRide encourages safety procedures by offering incentives like a free unlock fee or ride discounts to people who wear helmets while riding.
A suggested route:
If you want to use Veo to get around Fort Wayne, there are many different trails and pathways available. The Rivergreenway Park Trail is a 25 mile-long path that takes riders along the banks of the St. Marys, St. Joseph and Maumee Rivers. While Veo’s ride zones do not cover the full length of the trail, parts of it can be ridden for those that enjoy scenic riverfront views. After docking their bikes, riders can also enjoy Promenade Park’s family-friendly attractions like kayaking, the tree-top canopy trail and the kids’ canal.
For those who want a tour of downtown, the city of Fort Wayne provides bike lanes throughout most major roads. Veo users can unlock a bike or a scooter and ride to visit historical landmarks. Starting at the Fort Wayne Museum of Art on 311 East Main Street, riders can enjoy hours of Fort Wayne’s best art history. Less than a mile away by bike is the Fort Wayne Firefighters Museum, which originated in 1974 to collect artifacts and teach fire safety. For a bite to eat, riders can stop at the Landing Beer Company, located on 118 Columbia Street, for drinks and barbecue lunch options. To top off the day Veo riders can enjoy the Foellinger-Freimann Botanical Conservatory on Calhoun Street.
Since 2008, the local nonprofit Nice Ride Minnesota has been partnering with the city of Minneapolis to provide a bike-sharing pilot program. The program recently expanded to St. Paul, and the Twin Cities now host 1,850 bikes in total. It costs users $2.50 for a single 30-minute ride and 22 cents per additional minute of ride time. A day pass is $6 for unlimited 30-minute rides throughout a 24-hour period and an annual membership fee of $89 provides unlimited 45-minute rides.
After observing bike programs in other cities, Nice Ride wanted to provide a way for people to ride bikes without the overbearing cost of traditional docking stations. A single bike parking station and its bikes can cost $50,000, meaning that lower-income neighborhoods are often skipped over when choosing where to place the docking stations. To address these concerns, Nice Ride switched from traditional docking stations to outlining spots on the sidewalk called “virtual parking hubs” designated by white tape and signs. The new innovation only cost about $600 to be installed and is prioritizing underserved neighborhoods for its first rollout. North Minneapolis and surrounding areas that lack easy access to bike shares and traditional public transit were the first to see the dockless bikes. Nice Ride bikes also include a small GPS that can be used to track the bike if it is not returned to a correct parking location. The user can then be charged with a small fee for not properly docking the bike.
A suggested route:
Downtown Minneapolis has an abundance of bike and scooter hubs along with available bike trails. This interactive map created by Nice Ride details locations of the hubs, available bikes and nearby trails and paths. One popular path for riders is the Midtown Greenway, a 5.5-mile path in south Minneapolis that was formerly a railroad corridor. The trail connects to other paths along the Minneapolis Chain of Lakes and the Mississippi River for those who enjoy lake or riverfront views. Additionally, users can ride into Minneapolis’ downtown and enjoy sights such as the Minneapolis College of Art and Design Sculpture Garden, the Minneapolis Institute of Art and the Hennepin History Museum.
MoGo launched in 2017 with 43 stations and 430 bicycles. After a year of operations, the nonprofit initiated a pilot program with the Detroit Department of Transportation to provide MoGo memberships to people who were purchasing bus passes on a weekly, biweekly and bimonthly basis. They found that 90 percent of people using the passes were people of color and 81 percent of pass holders had an income of less than $25,000. According to a survey taken by pass holders, people used MoGo to commute to and from work and to travel to the Detroit Department of Transportation to connect to their next form of transportation.
MoGo bikes offer flexible options for users, including for tourists who ride once and residents who ride year-round. The bikes are $1 to unlock per ride and 25 cents per minute of each ride, allowing users to pay only for the minutes they use. For those that want to sightsee and exercise, a two-hour prepaid pass is $18. Monthly and annual passes, valued at $20 and $90, give consistent users an option for unlimited 60-minute trips.
The program launched in June 2020 and initially leased 125 electric bikes and 150 electric scooters to employees during a 16-week program. Now, MoGo has expanded to 75 stations with 620 bikes in northwest Detroit and neighboring suburbs.
A suggested route:
MoGo users looking to explore the city can utilize numerous bike paths and bike lanes throughout Detroit’s downtown districts. For example, starting at the Detroit Institute of Arts, riders can travel through Midtown, where you’ll find Wayne State University’s campus, revitalized restaurants and shopping districts. Afterward, catch a baseball game at Comerica Park, home of the Detroit Tigers. From there, you can travel to the historic Detroit Financial District, Campus Martius Park and Riverwalk Park. With bike hubs and riding lanes located on almost every block, you can explore the city in many more ways than one.
After highlighting some suggested cities and routes for you to pursue on your next bike trip, we hope you’re inspired to ride and explore! But don’t limit yourself — bike and scooter share programs are popping up across the Midwest, including in small regional cities and on college campuses. Whether you are a local wanting to explore your favorite sights or a tourist looking to scout out a new city, consider renting a bike or a scooter for your next adventure.