Today, MoGo serves that core downtown area – widening out into adjacent neighborhoods – and has dropped some stations into “Live6
,” an NW Detroit community identified a decade ago as a strategic investment point by city planning. MoGo also expanded
into southern Oakland County, which is a progressive and walkable area in town names you might know like Royal Oak (i.e. former streetcar suburbs
I wanted to share a summary of my MoGo Detroit research with the world – my vision for where it could go. I gave my word that I wasn’t interviewing people for publication. So, this is just a top-level summary and list of organizations with staffers who were extremely generous in giving their time to a stranger. I’m hoping the new Executive Director MoGo did hire finds my packet useful. I badly want them to succeed.
In the cover letter, I wrote:
This work demonstrates the passion, proactivity, and emotional intelligence you highlighted when I asked what attributes made Lisa
successful as the founding ED. Lisa is an independent leader whose judgment you could trust. I will continue to lead MoGo in a similar spirit. I’ve sought conversations with almost 50 stakeholders to learn how mobility in the Detroit area brings opportunity.
I’m grateful to the 47 people who offered time to discuss MoGo and Metro Detroit. Many additional people connected me with others better able to speak to non-car transportation and narrate Michigan’s last 10 years. Repeatedly, my conversation partners mentioned the need for cross-discipline, triple- and quadruple-bottom line efforts tying government programs and funding streams in with philanthropy, local nonprofits, and residents in need of many more things than an isolated bikeshare dock. As I chart the beginnings of a MoGo expansion, I envision a more ambitious network assisting with multi-disciplinary challenges, serving more people, with a more sustainable business model, and delivering on our specialty: affordable, reliable bikes.
I heard that “street cred” is critical for MoGo to grow and for me to succeed as its leader. I’m a white kid from Macomb County that left Michigan after college and never lived in Detroit. Some may be understandably suspicious. I ask all stakeholders to give me the chance to earn their respect and trust with my actions and words. I acknowledge my privilege and identity, but I cherish it also. I’m a bike commuter, a public servant, an immigrant’s grandson, a mobility justice advocate, and hopefully MoGo’s next leader.
SUMMARY: MoGo Detroit Should Access Pandemic-Related Federal Recovery Funds to Expand Quickly and Join Campaign for Regional Transit Funding
MoGo Detroit has the opportunity to be the most popular and functional last/first-mile mobility option connecting Detroit-area residents with the places they want to go. However, MoGo’s success is irrevocably tied to the improvement and expansion of transit services in Southeast Michigan (SE-MI). The region has mostly single-use, low-density development patterns with unsafe, car-oriented surface transportation. Hopefully, that changes – it’s an unhealthy
, financially unsustainable
economic growth strategy – but it is the near- and medium-term playing field. With that in mind:
MoGo should join efforts to fund the Regional Transportation Authority of SE-MI (RTA) with a dedicated investment that would also deliver funds to expand and maintain MoGo as the priority micro-mobility option. I’ve spoken with Ben Stupka at RTA and others to begin this effort. That is a politically challenging path that follows from the assumption that MoGo leadership envision a multi-county bikeshare system capable of delivering high-quality non-car travel options beyond the City of Detroit and adjacent communities already organized around smart growth principles (e.g., Ferndale). In order to connect riders with the most essential and recreational destinations, I believe MoGo should pursue a regional vision with a 20-30 year time horizon.
In any case, near-term MoGo expansion should focus on more Detroit neighborhoods and those adjacent, interested communities. There is a one-time opportunity to seek federal pandemic recovery-related funding
to catalyze expansion ten times what’s possible in a normal 1-3 year time frame. The Live6/South Oakland County expansion
provides a good case study to replicate and expand within the City’s strategic neighborhoods
. Joe Rashid at E. Warren Development Corporation expressed interest during our conversation, as did Jennifer Gomez at the SW Detroit Business Association.
MoGo should engage with “Streets for People
” – Detroit’s ongoing campaign to create a multimodal master transportation plan – and other planning processes with transportation elements. These include the upcoming
Belle Isle Master Plan, Detroit DPR Strategic Plan
, neighborhood plans
, implementation of SEMCOG’s Bike Mobility Network
, MDOT project and maintenance plans, plus County and municipal-level
streetscape and public space visioning. MoGo must advocate for beginner-friendly bike networks – all-ages, and abilities – in as much of the region as possible. The system’s success depends on a much more extensive, comfortable network for vulnerable road users. For equity, for viability, MoGo must be a bigger advocate. The Joe Louis Greenway and other growing
off-street facilities will provide opportunities for quick station expansion. We should partner with Michigan Trails and Greenways Alliance
and the Community Foundation of SE-MI on efforts like the Great Lakes Way
Bikeshare is public transportation
and transit success depends
on dedicated, annual funding from stakeholder governments. There are other funding models to supplement that automatic revenue, like adjacent land-value capture
, but MoGo has limited capacities there.
Not to worry!
Based on my conversations, regional transit efforts have failed because they haven’t involved competent campaigns and coherent coalitions.
There is no inscrutable, insurmountable disposition in Metro Detroiters making regional cooperation impossible on connected, cleaner travel options. The local Motor City/Automation Alley history
makes it more difficult to change gears as a populous. However, past experience should not dissuade future efforts to establish best practices, highest-quality Metro Detroit transit – and MoGo should be a part of that.
I’ve begun to review the histories of comparable, successful bikeshare systems like Divvy in Chicago
and Indego in Philadelphia
. Those systems created replicable processes for scaling pilot and demonstration efforts into larger service areas and infill stations for capacity. To best accomplish their equity-focused missions, they continued to center local stakeholders
– residents – early and often in planning, implementation, and upkeep/maintenance. I’ve spoken with MoGo champions at PeopleForBikes’ BetterBikeShare effort and NACTO. I would continue infusing MoGo expansion plans with inclusive, empowering community outreach and contributions.
My leadership of MoGo would focus first and always on delivering excellence in what we already do with an eye toward what’s needed for the expansion strategy I describe.
Lisa Nuszkowski – Adriel, Rory, and the rest of the MoGo team – have done an amazing job getting MoGo to where it’s at now. Feasibility study to downtown deployment to targeted neighborhood revitalization at Live6 with connectivity up to essentials and amenities in Southern Oakland County. Almost every stakeholder I spoke with had worked with MoGo in some capacity and offered praise. Lisa’s leadership has left an amazing foundation. Last month’s news
about QLine service resumption shows she is already doing a good job at M1 Rail.
It was a gauntlet starting and growing a nonprofit organization, then shutting it down. But, I gained the necessary experience to lead MoGo well; a promising bikeshare system with the ingredients to change the non-car mobility game in my hometown.