Group of Michigan students create rentable 'smart bike' - DC News FOX 5 DC WTTG

Group of Michigan students create rentable 'smart bike'

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A2B Bikeshare's "smart bike" features a touch screen. A2B Bikeshare's "smart bike" features a touch screen.
ANN ARBOR, Mich. (WJBK) -

It's clean, green and good for your health.  Riding a bike is a popular way to roll, but what if you don't have one?  A group of University of Michigan students came up with the startup A2B Bikeshare to solve that problem.

"Bike share trips replace car trips.  They create healthier people by being active in the community.  When you are riding, you aren't driving saving CO2," said Ansgar Strother.

He is a computer engineering major who took a look at bike sharing for a class project, then decided to make it a business.  He and his team designed a prototype of a smart bike with built-in solar panel, lock and touch screen that people can rent for about $5 an hour.

"Now that the bike is smart, you can use the touch screen on it to do things like Google maps, guided tours for tourists and proximity advertisements to help pay through the system's operation making it more affordable for communities to put in," Strother said.

The bike itself is expensive.  It costs about $2,000.  But the students say thefts are rare.  In Denver, which has 500 bikes for rent, there was only theft in a year.  Just in case, there is a GPS tracking device welded onto the bike that is hard to remove.

"In order to check out the bike, you have to have your credit card information entered in," Strother explained.  "That way if you don't return the bike -- it gets lost, stolen, damaged beyond use -- you're then responsible by your credit card."

Ann Arbor actually has a separate bike sharing program in the works.  The smart bike wasn't ready when that was being developed, but the A2B Bikeshare guys are talking with other cities, including Lansing, to get their bike on the road.

U of M also has 15 bikes available for students for $5 a day, $11 a weekend or $75 per semester.  Riders also get a lock and a helmet.

Other schools and communities are also looking into bike sharing.  It's an eco-friendly idea that could soon come to a city near you.

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