General Motors is rolling out zero-emissions vehicles with less than one horsepower each. That is, it’s using bicycles.
More specifically, the automaker will be promoting employee bike sharing in and around its expansive Warren Technical Center campus.
This is not the first time GM has used bikes. Another time was during WWII because of fuel rationing. This time, it’s because of greenness, efficiency and health reasons.
As things stand, GM says it’s the first of its kind by any U.S. automaker, and it will enable its 19,000 employees to commute more easily both on and off campus.
To get it all accomplished, GM is working with Zagster, a private bike sharing company that has developed similar programs for other businesses. GM said its 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 Web site OverDrive, GM said its 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.”
According to GM, 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 said to be the first private bikeshare system to employ this technology.
Zagster added 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.
GM said it 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.