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Superior Mayor Proposes Bike-Share Program

Mayor Hopes To Use Public Funds To Kick Start The Program

Photo courtesy of Zagster

The city of Superior could begin implementing a bike-share program in the city as soon as next spring, according to Superior Mayor Jim Paine. Superior’s mayor would like the city to invest surplus money that’s been collected through a tax on lodging to kick start the program.

A bike-share program would allow people to rent bikes from stations located around the city for short durations of time. Paine said he would like the city to invest roughly $72,000 to lease four bike stations for two years.

Superior’s mayor said surplus money from the city’s hotel-motel tax could be used to kick start the program, but he added it would require additional investment after the first two years.

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“We need to make sure we are valuing all forms of transportation equally, not just motor vehicle traffic. I firmly believe the very best way to get around the city of Superior is some way other than a vehicle,” he said. “It’s a relatively geographically small and flat city, and so bicycles and pedestrians can get around far more effectively than vehicles.”

Massachusetts-based Zagster approached the city with its idea for a bike-share program in Superior, according to Paine. The company provides bikes, stations, maintenance, rider support, data analysis, and insurance to cities interested in growing their bicycle ridership. Zagster has bike-share programs in 160 locations across the United States and Canada, including Wauwatosa, Wisconsin. The company also has programs in the Twin Cities.

Jon Terbush, Zagster’s communications manager, said the company has been expanding to smaller cities as bicycling has become more popular in urban areas.

Paine hopes a bike-share program would help the city become more active and spur growth in the city.

“Hopefully by attracting and retaining a vibrant population,” he said. “We want to keep our citizens here and enjoying and appreciating their city, we want them to get out of their houses and to experience their city and that has a commercial effect when people leave their houses they sometimes do other things.”

Superior’s mayor said he hoped the program would also serve as another feature to attract visitors and potential residents.

“We want the visitors to not just enjoy their temporary time here but to consider moving here. When people are looking for that great job in the 21st Century, a lot of the time they are not just looking for the place to work but looking for the great place to live,” he said. “I believe Superior is that community, but we need to make sure that it’s doing that for as many people as possible.”

Superior’s mayor proposed using revenues from the hotel-motel tax to support a bike-share program before the Finance Committee last Thursday. Councilors Brent Fennessey and Jack Sweeney recommended that any program should be 100 percent supported by private sponsorship with no investment from the city. The motion was approved by the committee and their recommendation will now be taken up by the Superior City Council on Aug. 1.

This story was last updated 2:50 p.m. on Monday, July 17. Danielle Kaeding contributed reporting for this story.