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Posted on Mon, Aug 5, 2013 : 5:57 a.m.

Stewart Beal helps start free bike sharing program in Ypsilanti

By Tom Perkins


Bike share racks at 103 N. Adams St. sit less than a half block from the Ypsilanti Transit Center.

Tom Perkins | For

Ypsilanti developer and Beal Properties owner Stewart Beal has launched a free bike-sharing program for his tenants and Ypsilanti’s residents.

The program is a partnership with Zagster, a Cambridge, MA-based bike-sharing company that specializes in partnering with property owners, hotels and universities to provide bike sharing programs.

As of this week, four bikes are available at a Beal property at 103 N. Adams St., which Beal said was chosen for its close proximity to the Ypsilanti Transit Center. A second group will be installed at 107 E. Cross St. behind the Thompson Block when its parking lot is built sometime in 2014.

“It’s a nice amenity to have,” Beal said. “Some properties have a washer and dryer, some have wireless internet and now this property and properties within walking distance can also have free bike sharing,”

Beal is also discussing partnering with the Ypsilanti Downtown Development Authority to help fund more bike sharing racks throughout the city.

In Ypsilanti, Beal owns 30 properties and manages 10 more that 200 residents call home.

A resident wishing to use a bike must first join Zagster at Each bike contains a bike lock with a key stored inside a lock box. A rider texts “start” plus the bike number to a phone number provided by Zagster. Zagster then texts back the access code for the lock.

That reserves the bike until the end of the day or when the bike is returned. But riders must provide a credit card number and are responsible if the bike is lost or stolen.

Ypsilanti residents can also take part in the program by signing up through the Beal Properties Facebook page.

Bike sharing has been growing in popularity. According to a Zagster press release, there are now over 500,000 bike share bikes available worldwide and programs in 49 countries.

Beal said Zagster approached him about installing a rack at the Broderick Tower in Detroit, which the Beal family partially owns. Zagster recently launched a larger bike share program in Detroit for employees of Dan Gilbert-owned companies.

“I became fascinated with the company and decided to check it out in Ypsilanti on a small scale before doing it in Detroit,” he said. “I’m a big fan of car sharing and bike sharing and Ypsilanti had neither.”



Tue, Aug 6, 2013 : 11:55 a.m.

He can't keep to a Thompson Block timeline for years and years I guess we now know it's because he has his mind on bike rentals and gardening. Meanwhile his properties continue to be an eyesore. It's all just PR for him to try to combat a well earned bad business reputation.


Tue, Aug 6, 2013 : 12:13 a.m.

Ten to one it won't last long.

Jack Gladney

Mon, Aug 5, 2013 : 7:43 p.m.

For those inquiring about this charitable operation, Zagster's business model is pretty easy to look up. They even have an RFI form on their website. You too can provide this service in your neighborhood. According to the Philidelphia Inquirer, the typical set-up involves a 4-bike pad which has a start-up cost of about $500, although they can even set up a system for an entire city (ahem, Mr. Mayor). Users pay a yearly membership fee of $50, and then have access to the bikes. which are then rented out at hourly, daily or monthly rates.The article posted here does not state whether Mr. Beal is also popping for the charges and fees or if he gets a cut of them. It seems like you would get a commission from your rental pad, but if it's a free service as stated in the article, that is very generous of Stewart. Zagster takes care of the bikes' upkeep providing for a hassle-free urban biking experience for cool people on the go.

E. Daniel Ayres

Mon, Aug 5, 2013 : 6:21 p.m.

Nothing is free. Zagster gets your credit card number before you can even check out a bike. There may be "fees" involved, and most certainly they will have both a cell phone number and a credit card before a bike even leaves the locked rack. I'm just curious who makes money out of this and how.


Tue, Aug 6, 2013 : 12:15 a.m.

Maybe they get some dude to "steal" the bikes when they are being used...remember, "riders must provide a credit card number and are responsible if the bike is lost or stolen" I'm joking of course but stranger things have been known to happen

Ron Burgandy

Mon, Aug 5, 2013 : 4:42 p.m.

Tune in next week to "Gone With the Schwinn" when Scarlett asks where Rhett is headed with her stolen bike, and he responds with "Frankly my dear, I don't give a damn!"

Honest Abe

Mon, Aug 5, 2013 : 3:55 p.m.

Beal owes property taxes up the wazoo, but his mind is on bike sharing and getting $10K investors (around 174 of them). Anyone else going to join him for Kool Aid? Not me.


Mon, Aug 5, 2013 : 3:44 p.m.

I've noticed that Mr. Beal receives a lot of criticism from commenters on for not keeping to a timeline, but the past 5 yrs have been very difficult for developers. Banks have just not been willing to lend even when they are sitting on piles of capital. Now that the economy has been improving for a while, we should see developers such as Mr. Beal able to move ahead because the capital is becoming available again. This move to provide some bikes for Ypsi - simply by signing up - no $10,000 commitment as one poster implied - is a good way to signal that he's back, I think. If you are in a cocoon where economic realities have not affected you over the past five yrs, consider yourself very lucky.

Honest Abe

Mon, Aug 5, 2013 : 3:58 p.m.

Where did you buy those rose colored glasses? Also - "is a good way to signal the he's BACK" followed by "I think" Wow! that's some confidence in you. By the way, if you're investment strategy is hope, then you're doomed before you even begin.........I think ;)


Mon, Aug 5, 2013 : 1:47 p.m.

Sounds like a cool program. The crackheads must be salivating. I suggest Mr. Beal invest in small GPS trackers to attach to these bikes, and/or point a hidden security camera at each bike station, so he'll have something YPD can use to ID anyone who may try to "share" a bike improperly.

Jaime Magiera

Mon, Aug 5, 2013 : 4 p.m.

The GPS is an interesting idea - but I'm not sure how that would square with the privacy concerns of renters. Maybe it would not be enabled until the bike was reported stolen? hmmmm... something to think about.


Mon, Aug 5, 2013 : 12:12 p.m.

This whole area has a long history of bike we'll see how well this program works out. I have a feeling if a renter has a bike stolen from them and they are given an exorbitant charge for it, they'll never use the program again and it'll generate negative publicity.

Jaime Magiera

Mon, Aug 5, 2013 : 12:07 p.m.

Excellent. Kudos to Mr. Beal - and Zagster for their innovative system.

Jack Gladney

Mon, Aug 5, 2013 : 11:42 a.m.

"Some properties have a washer and dryer, some have wireless internet..." And some have four walls, glass windows, a roof and floors... and electricity... Oh, and running water. Thompson Block will have bikes. Four bikes. That you guys can have. Well not have, but share. OK, who's gonna pony up $10K to share a bike? No? OK, how about $10K to share a bike and a beer? You don't have to share the beer... You get to have your own beer... if you are one of the first 100 people... I get to keep the bottle deposit. *Crickets*

Honest Abe

Mon, Aug 5, 2013 : 4:02 p.m.

Don't forget about the Starbucks card! By the way, you will NEED that beer after having second thoughts about coming off that $10K!!!! To the Thompson building and Beal!!!!!! Are you freaking kidding me!!??? Like I said, buying some index funds or going to the casino would probably produce better results with your money than putting into the Thompson building!!

Duc d'Escargot

Mon, Aug 5, 2013 : 12:53 p.m.

I think the wording about the Thompson Bock should be "*if* its parking lot is built sometime in 2014."

Linda Peck

Mon, Aug 5, 2013 : 11:33 a.m.

This is great. Good for Mr Beal for initiating this.


Mon, Aug 5, 2013 : 10:53 a.m.

I'm glad someone is going forward with a bike sharing program in Ypsilanti. Having it in place is so much better than listening to the planning stages for weeks and weeks.


Mon, Aug 5, 2013 : 10:44 a.m.

More free press for Mr. Beal.

Honest Abe

Mon, Aug 5, 2013 : 4:04 p.m.

Gotta spend money to make.get money! remember, he has to get on everyone's good side, so he can get that chunk of change, you know? that $1,740,000.00?? Make that impression stewy!


Mon, Aug 5, 2013 : 1:49 p.m.

You start a noteworthy program or service, then can write about you.


Mon, Aug 5, 2013 : 1:02 p.m.

True, but he kinda earned it, don't you think? Those bikes aren't free.