A program with a twist on bike sharing is coming to Butler County

Published: Monday, February 19, 2018 @ 12:00 PM


            Bright orange Spin bikes are expected to soon be seen on local streets for a pilot project. Three Miami seniors have worked to bring the bike sharing program here for use by both Miami students and local residents. The firm needs a Memorandum of Understanding from the city and Council is now looking at that document with an eye toward possible action on a resolution at Tuesday s meeting. CONTRIBUTED/SPIN
Bright orange Spin bikes are expected to soon be seen on local streets for a pilot project. Three Miami seniors have worked to bring the bike sharing program here for use by both Miami students and local residents. The firm needs a Memorandum of Understanding from the city and Council is now looking at that document with an eye toward possible action on a resolution at Tuesday s meeting. CONTRIBUTED/SPIN

If you do not own a bike and sometimes think you might want to take one for a spin, your chance could come this spring as orange Spin bikes are introduced to the Miami campus and local community.

It’s the culmination of a four-year process for three college seniors graduating this May with a dream to introduce bike sharing. Unlike some bikeshare programs which require users to go to a station to secure the ride and return it there, Spin is a stationless program using GPS and a phone app to locate the nearest available bike, which can then be left wherever it is no longer needed.

Maggie Callaghan, Miami’s student body president this year, said a bikeshare program was something she and two others wanted to see on the campus when they came here as freshmen.

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“When we came here freshman year, it was something to work on. This year, everything fell into place,” Callaghan said. “Most bike sharing (businesses) have stations. Spin is stationless. I think students will like it. It’s easy, even for the not-so-tech-savvy.”

Callaghan said her role has been behind-the-scenes this academic year because of her post as student body president. She credits Alex Wortman, the secretary for infrastructure and sustainability for Associated Student Government, and Sean Perme, ASG secretary for off-campus affairs, with bringing a bike sharing pilot program to Oxford.

All three appeared before Oxford City Council Feb. 6 to talk about the Spin program and explain the pilot program planned for later this semester.

The bikeshare program will be open to community residents as well as students, they explained, and the firm will bring an estimated 15 to 20 jobs to the area. They asked council to consider signing a Memorandum of Understanding with Spin, permitting them to operate here, but Wortman explained there is no liability for the city. It is not a contract, he said, merely an authorization to proceed and a way to make the city aware of the program operating here.

Mayor Kate Rousmaniere, a bicyclist herself, said they would have the memorandum reviewed by the city’s law director and consider having a resolution to approve it on this Tuesday’s meeting agenda.

The city’s Student Community Relations Commission had a prior presentation from Spin about their program.

“It’s nothing but a good thing,” said Council member Glenn Ellerbe, who serves on the SCRC. “I hope by the (next) February meeting we can have a resolution for the manager to sign the Memorandum of Understanding.”

Wortman told Council it would be approximately four weeks after signing the MOU before the pilot bikes could be in use here, which would make it shortly after Miami’s Spring Break. He said approximately 50 bikes would be brought here for the pilot program with an estimated 150 when the program goes full in August.

Later, he spoke about the process of getting a bike sharing program here after it seemed the university was close to starting one two years ago.

“I always liked bike sharing. My sophomore year, I was elected to student government and the university seemed close to signing with the station model. I went abroad my junior year and when I came back, I expected bikes,” Wortman said. “The university did not do it. Sean and I said, ‘Let’s do it.’ ”

Perme is a co-leader of SCRC and they hosted Chris King, campus partnerships manager for Spin, in December. King brought along one of the bikes, which helped convinced those involved the company was the right choice for Miami and Oxford.

The bikes are specially made for Spin with GPS for tracking their locations and a locking function the user can access with a phone app. Wortman explained the bikes have a mechanism behind the seat which locks the rear wheel of the bike.

The app will allow a user to learn the location of the nearest Spin bike and reserve it so only that person can unlock it, but that must be done within 10 minutes. Once unlocked, the customer can ride it for transportation or recreational use and just leave it for the next person who needs it, using the app to lock it again and end that rider’s time of use.

Users can ride the bikes for 50-cents for each 30 minutes or buy an annual pass at $100 for community residents for unlimited use for a calendar year or $50 for Miami students or those with Miami e-mail accounts.

“The bikes are specially made and branded bright orange,” Wortman said. “We asked about red for Miami but they are orange. It’s their branding and business model.”

It will be possible to ride the bikes out of Oxford, but they must be left within the city limits for their “geo fence” to lock the bike and end the user’s time with it.

The jobs to be created will involve a Resource Team of licensed bike technicians to set up and repair bikes and people to keep track of the where the bikes are left—possibly moving them to more convenient locations—as well as responding to complaints about they are left. Such comments can be made to them on-line.

Wortman was asked at the Council meeting if they had spoken to Bikewise owner Doug Hamilton and he said he was not sure if any substantive discussion had happened but Spin is aware of the local business as a possible repair and upkeep resource.

Spin was founded in San Francisco in 2016, as a start-up using help from other businesses such as Y Combinator, Uber, Lyft and other technology companies.

Callaghan credited Wortman and Perme with the work of contacting bikeshare companies and talking about the process. She said as Student Body President her role was more behind-the-scenes. She said the firm’s liability insurance coverage is the best they investigated.

“It’s not something I campaigned on. I have been working on other projects with the city, like getting a movie theater back here. My work has been getting Miami on board and connecting people. Facilitating,” Callaghan said. “There will be problems. We will work through them. This is a very bike-friendly community. It is the quintessential place for a program like this. It has worked in bigger cities, like San Diego. If it worked there, it will certainly work here.”

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Isolated showers early, lingering clouds make for breezy afternoon

Published: Saturday, June 23, 2018 @ 5:36 AM

Isolated showers this morning with temperatures rising heading into the afternoon. Lingering clouds will make for a breezy day, said Storm Center 7 Meteorologist McCall Vrydghas. 

>>Dayton Air Show forecast

QUICK-LOOK FORECAST:

  • Few passing showers or storms today
  • Breezy at times this afternoon
  • Heat and humidity return next week

>>WHIO Doppler 7 Interactive Radar

Today: Mostly cloudy with a few isolated showers around in the morning. Temperatures will be rising out of the 60s. Clouds will linger through the day and become breezy. As an area of low pressure departs to the northeast, the flow wrapping around the low may spark a few passing showers or an isolated storm this afternoon. Highs expected in the upper 70s. Drying out later tonight with some breaks in the clouds. Overnight temperatures will drop into the lower 60s.

>>LISTEN: Dayton Air Show Chance of Podcast

Sunday: Partly sunny and warm with the slight chance of a passing shower. Most of the area will remain dry with highs in the lower 80s.

Monday: Sun and a few clouds, dry with highs in the lower 80s.

Tuesday:  Partly cloudy and warmer. Humidity will slowly begin to climb with highs in the middle 80s. Chance of a few showers may develop into the evening and night.

>>Moon and Jupiter close this weekend

Wednesday: Partly sunny skies with showers and a few storms developing. A very warm and muggy day with temperatures climbing into the upper 80s.

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Gulf grows between Trump and Congress on trade

Published: Saturday, June 23, 2018 @ 5:15 AM

As President Donald Trump this week threatened $200 billion in new tariffs on Chinese imports, and then warned Europe that he would slap a 20 percent tariff on imported automobiles, members of both parties Congress accused the administration of starting a trade war which could cause collateral economic damage across the United States.

The differences were on display at a hearing Wednesday with Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, who took a bipartisan tongue lashing on a recent round of tariffs levied on imported steel and aluminum from Canada, Mexico and Europe.

“We’re picking winners and losers,” argued Sen. Pat Toomey (R-PA), who said those tariffs were already hurting businesses in his home state.

“Probably resulting – in my view – in far more jobs being lost than being gained,” Toomey told Ross, citing a very well-known Pennsylvania company that could find it less expensive to move jobs from the U.S. to Canada.

Almost every Senator on the panel had a story of a small business that was feeling the pinch due to Trump Administration tariffs, impacting all sorts of agricultural products, as well as manufacturing, big and small.

“Do you think we’re in a trade war right now?” asked Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-WA). “Because I do,” as Cantwell rattled off farm products that were losing markets because of retaliatory tariff measures.

Ross downplayed the cost of higher imported steel and aluminum, basically making the case that economic hardships were being overplayed.

“It’s a fraction of a penny on a can of Campbell’s soup, it’s a fraction on a can of Budweiser, it’s a fraction on a can of Coke,” Ross said.

That did not please the Senator from the state of Coca-Cola.

“Although a couple of pennies on a can is not much, a couple pennies times a billion is lots,” said Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-GA).

“We’re hit harder than any other state by the Canadian retaliatory tariffs,” said Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH), warning the Trump Administration against tariffs on imported automobiles, as GOP Senators labeled such actions a tax on consumers.

“Steel prices are going up – not just for foreign steel subject to tariffs, but also for U.S. steel,” complained Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT).

“Mexico’s buying their wheat from Argentina and their corn from Brazil,” said Sen. Pat Roberts (R-KS), as he told Ross that Kansas wheat exports were encountering troubles because of new retaliatory tariffs on U.S. exports, bringing bad economic news on the farm report.

Ross simply told Senators if other countries put new tariffs on U.S. exports, that was out of his control.

“We have no control over what another country does in retaliation,” Ross said.

The bipartisan complaints clearly had no impact, as by Friday, President Trump was on Twitter, issuing new threats against European auto imports.

As Democrats registered their opposition, they also couldn’t help but note the oddity of a Republican President going against what’s been a bedrock belief of the GOP.

“I feel like I’ve gone down a rabbit hole,” said Sen. Clare McCaskill (D-MO), who said she found it hard to believe the party of free trade now had a President in office who was doing the exact opposite.

“In a chaotic and frankly incompetent manner, you’re picking winners and losers,” McCaskill told Ross.

But for the President, this is about re-setting trade deals, which he says were tilted against the United States.

“As far as trade is concerned with other countries, we want fair and reciprocal trade, we don’t want stupid trade like we had for so long,” the President said at a rally in Minnesota.

“Remember the world reciprocal,” Mr. Trump said. “We have been ripped off by almost every country on Earth, our friends and our enemies.”

“But those days are over,” the President said to cheers from the crowd.

But while they’re cheering Mr. Trump on the stump, at the U.S. Capitol, they’re worried about a trade war.

“We’re getting into a war that’s going to cost lots of billions of dollars,” Isakson warned.

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Grass poisoning could be cause for 'drunk' kangaroos, veterinarians say

Published: Saturday, June 23, 2018 @ 4:37 AM

Kangaroos in Australia have been affected by canary grass, veterinarians said.
VCG/VCG via Getty Images
Kangaroos in Australia have been affected by canary grass, veterinarians said.(VCG/VCG via Getty Images)

Veterinarians in Australia are conducting tests to determine whether kangaroos that appear to be drunk have actually suffered neurological damage because of a strain of grass, The Guardian reported.

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The veterinarians, from the University of Melbourne, said Phalaris aquatica -- a common pasture crop in central Victoria -- have caused the suffering among eastern gray kangaroos, the Guardian reported. Wildlife officials said the kangaroos were suffering from Phalaris “staggers,” which is common among sheep and cattle that graze in Australia.

“A kangaroo with full-blown toxicity is just horrible,” Manfred Zabinskas from Five Freedoms Animal Rescue told Guardian Australia. “Their head flies around like they have got a broken neck; they summersault; they crash into fences and trees … they look like they are drunk.”

Phalaris, also known as canary grass, is a tall grass common to southeastern Australia. Some farmers have avoided planting the species because the “staggers” can cause heart failure among animals, the Guardian reported.

In domestic animals, the condition can be controlled by adding copper into their diet. But in kangaroos, the condition is believed to be irreversible, the Guardian reported.

“The kindest thing to do is to euthanize them,” Zabinskas said.

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Superman trades cape for badge: Dean Cain sworn in as reserve police officer in Idaho

Published: Saturday, June 23, 2018 @ 4:02 AM

Actor Dean Cain was sworn in as a reserve police officer in Idaho.
Rich Polk/Getty Images for Variety
Actor Dean Cain was sworn in as a reserve police officer in Idaho.(Rich Polk/Getty Images for Variety)

Superman has changed uniforms.

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Actor Dean Cain, who played the Man of Steel in the show “Lois and Clark: The New Adventures of Superman,” was recently sworn in as a reserve officer in Idaho, Fox News reported.

Cain, 51, was sworn in as a reserve for the St. Anthony Police Department, Fox News reported. The Idaho State Police tweeted the news Tuesday, showing a series of photos of the swearing-in ceremony.

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