GRAND FORKS Between May and October, Grand Rides Bike Share riders burned more than 6 million calories.

The Destination Development Association soft-launched the program in August 2020, but Blue Weber, president and CEO of the Downtown Development Association, says this year was really the program’s pilot.

“From those numbers, we’re seeing that it is very popular,” Weber said. “Students love using it and people in the community love using it.”

The software that the bike share program operates through, Movatic, allows Weber to see exactly how much Grand Forks residents are using the program. By Weber’s most recent count, riders have spent 834,863 minutes on bikes, or about 13,914 hours. If riders are burning 450 calories per hour riding, the early October total for the number of calories burned since the bikes were put out this year is around 6.3 million.

Weber says the program has seen 793 individual riders this year. May was the biggest month for new users, with 230 new riders.

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While a bike share program was introduced to Grand Forks in 2019 through the company Zagster, after the company folded during the pandemic, the Downtown Development Association brought the program back, partnering with the City of Grand Forks, Altru, Visit Greater Grand Forks and the University of North Dakota Student Government for funding.

The software allows Weber to gauge how popular the program is, and the program partners also gain insight from the data. Weber said that the city can use ridership numbers when deciding whether to invest in bike infrastructure, like bike lanes, and it allows Altru to learn about the health benefits of the program.

Weber anticipates bikes will be put away for the year in the next couple of weeks. UND provides the Downtown Development Association with storage space on its campus, where the bikes will undergo maintenance over the winter to prepare them for next year’s bike season. When the bikes hit the ground in the spring will depend on the weather.

“Since we run the program here locally, we get to decide,” said Weber. “We get to kind of just play with the date depending on when it gets nice enough.”

This year, the bike fleet had around 40 active bikes at a time. Weber hopes to increase this number to 60 active bikes next year.

“We’re excited. Next year we're reinvesting and making it even bigger and better,” said Weber.