Pedal Power: GM Shares Bikes with 19,000 Tech Center Employees
WARREN, Mich. – General Motors’ Warren Technical Center is implementing a bike share program – the first of its kind from any U.S. automaker – that will enable its 19,000 employees to commute more easily both on and off campus.
GM is working with Zagster, a private bike sharing company that has developed similar programs for other businesses. Employees can use Zagster bikes stationed throughout the Tech Center to travel between its 61 buildings covering the 330-acre campus.
“GM is investing not only in the long-term health and productivity of its workforce, but sending a strong message to other employers around the country that bike sharing is a mainstream transportation option for employees,” said Timothy Ericson, co-founder and CEO of Zagster.
Posting on GM’s internal website OverDrive, engineers and designers expressed enthusiasm for riding bikes at a car company, where walking, driving and timed shuttle buses are the typical ways employees get from one part of campus to another.
“This is an awesome idea,” said John Waechter, designing engineer at the Tech Center. “I can’t wait to quickly get to meetings without walking to a car and finding parking. This is good for exercise, good for on-campus mobility and a nice way to actually learn more about non-auto transportation.”
To participate, an employee registers online, then reserves a bike through text message or a smart phone app that provides an access code to unlock the lock box mounted on the bike. Zagster’s geofencing technology installed at each bike station, is powered by solar energy panels – an energy feature comparable to the large public bike share systems, and unique to the GM/Zagster partnership. It is also the first private bikeshare system to employ this technology.
Each bike comes equipped with a basket to safely transport a laptop, notebook and other small belongings. Riders must wear helmets and use bells to alert pedestrians when they are approaching.
“GM is transforming transportation with our products, plants, people, and partnerships,” said GM Director of Sustainability David Tulauskas. “This bike sharing program is a great example of engaging our employees through this first-of-its kind partnership and also helps them look at transportation in a different way than we traditionally have.”
GM’s program expands Zagster’s existing service in Detroit – which has been used by more than 2,750 users in the last year.
“Private enterprises in Detroit, like General Motors, have stepped up to provide bike services to their employees,” said Ericson. “By funding and implementing these resources in a way that the local government can’t, these companies are making Detroit a better place to live, work and play.”
GM began a pilot program of the bike share for 50 Tech Center employees at the end of July. After the successful trial and mounting enthusiasm from employees, everyone on campus can now participate.