MICA Island-wide e-bike charging station project initiated

Manitoulin Island Cycling Advocates president Maja Mielonen is all-smiles during the launch of new charging stations on Manitoulin. photo by Tom Sasvari

MANITOULIN—The Manitoulin Island Cycling Advocates (MICA) micro-ability share charging station project is now up and running. Charging stations and e-bikes are now in place in seven Manitoulin Island locations.

“We are so excited this is finally happening,” stated Maja Mielonen, president of the Manitoulin Island Cycling Advocates (MICA) on the installation of the e-bike charging stations on Monday.

“This is such an Island wide project,” said Ms. Mielonen. “MICA has been incredibly fortunate to have had such a good working relationship with all the municipalities involved over the past 10 years and our other partners.”

The charging stations were installed in South Baymouth, Manitowaning, Little Current, Kagawong, Gore Bay, Mindemoya and Providence Bay. All stations are located on municipal properties and will connect to existing municipal hydro service.

Ms. Mielonen said the work on this proposal started in 2018, in a presentation MICA made to municipal councils and roads crews.

In 2019 funding was provided by FedNor and NOHFC ($157,000) and MICA and Destination Northern Ontario provided ten percent as well as  in-kind support from the six municipalities, Ms. Mielonen told The Expositor. By the time all is said and done, the project’s total cost is about $200,000.

To begin 20 electric bicycles (e-bikes) will be available Island wide for rent.

The e-bikes will expand the ability of locals who like to commute by bicycle who may not have bicycles, or to bike with friends who are cyclists. It will encourage boaters and walk-on visitors travelling by the ferry to reach out to more Island attractions and communities.

Originally, MICA had visited Island municipalities to get a feel for public opinion on the e-bike project and received agreements in principle from all municipalities.

“Users are going to be able to rent a bike at one of the seven stations on the Island and dock in another community,” said Ms. Mielonen, who pointed out the program, “is all app-driven and people will be able to pay for the e-bike rentals using their credit card.”

Ms. Mielonen said that, “in total we have 20 e-bikes. Each community is providing more docking space than the actual space needed for the bikes. We will run the project with the 20 bicycles for a year but there is definitely the potential for future growth. MICA will buy additional bikes as it fits with community demand.”