Maybe you’ve noticed that bicycles for rent are popping up everywhere around the country. It seems that all big cities and even smaller communities have latched on to this new concept of bike share.
Why bike share? According to the Urban Land Institute, 52% of Americans – and 63% of millennials – want to live where they won’t often need personal cars. Why? Because they want convenience and options. They want to be able to choose the best way between A and B without having to drive. Personal vehicle ownership has been on the decline with the introduction of new mobile technologies. Over 20% fewer people apply for driver’s licenses than they did 20 years earlier. With the rise of shared mobility and autonomous cars coming soon, the need to own a car is decreasing rapidly, especially in cities. Founded in just 2009 and having powered over 3 billion rides, Uber has delighted customers with a simple service - get a car with your phone, with one touch. The same concept is being applied to bicycles.
One company offering bike share programs is Cambridge, Massachusetts-based Zagster. Founded in 2007, Zagster is the fastest-growing bike-share provider in North America, with more than 160 bike shares in 35 states. “Technology is reshaping bike share completely. We’re living in a mobile-first world where experiences are powered through apps. People can take the experience with them on a bike,” says Jon Terbush, communications manager at Zagster.
Unlike big-city, kiosk-based bike shares — like Citi Bike, in New York — Zagster’s programs are app-based and use on-bike locking technology. Riders unlock bikes using the free Zagster smartphone app or via text message. Zagster handles everything involved in bike sharing — bikes, stations, apps, fleet operations, marketing, maintenance and repairs, rider support, insurance, data analysis, and account management.
Five years ago, only 16% of the top 25 best places to live had bike share programs. Today, according to US News & World Report, 23 of the top 25 best places to live, now have bike share. Bike sharing seems to be at its tipping point. Terbush added that, “The growth we’ve seen in the market over the past three to five years is only going to accelerate, and I think that’s why bike sharing isn’t just in big cities anymore, it’s moving into smaller cities and smaller spaces in general. There really is a huge demand for it across the board. If we give people access to bikes, they will ride them.”
From quality of life, to improved transportation options, to health and wellness, communities have invested in bike share for many reasons. Communities are also finding that bike share programs have the ability to raise property values. In Washington, D.C., bike share has reduced traffic congestion by 3%, with each bike annually offsetting on average of 250 miles of car travel. Each ride in Minneapolis' bike share added $11 to the local economy. Bike sharing helps people reach businesses and introduces them to new ones.
Zagster recently installed bike share stations at several Pennsylvania locations - Reading Health System, Reading Housing Authority, Penn State Hershey Medical Center, and the City of York. And, programs are coming soon to the Penn State’s main campus and the City of Lancaster.