Bike-sharing should be for everyone — not just big cities. Yet when bike-shares first cropped up in the United States more than a decade ago, technological, financial and logistical demands confined them primarily to large metropolitan areas.
Smaller cities lacked the big budgets necessary to install sweeping systems full of depreciating assets. Nor did they have the finances to hire all the staff needed to operate and maintain bike-shares. So even were they able to implement small systems scaled to their needs, they still had no realistic way to pay for all the upkeep.
However, with technological innovations and new business models, smaller communities are breaking down barriers to entry and launching successful bike-sharing systems that are tailored to their needs and built within their means.
Join Zagster and the Shared-Use Mobility Center for an exclusive webinar, which will examine how smaller communities are making bikesharing work for them. Register to attend the webinar here.
“Zagster is focusing on bringing a solution that works for the rest of the country,” says CEO & Co-Founder Tim Ericson. “New York and Boston have a subway, but that doesn’t mean Albuquerque or Fort Wayne need to put in that sort of infrastructure. That’s where we fit in.”
As opposed to the expensive docking kiosks used in big-city programs, Zagster’s bikes come outfitted with built-in locking technology. And because the company manages all aspects of its programs — from technology and infrastructure, to maintenance and marketing — Zagster enables cities to deploy cost-effective programs tailored to their communities.
To further reduce the cost to cities — and taxpayers — Zagster also offers a unique private-public funding structure in which local businesses and organizations sponsor systems. In exchange for their support, sponsors get to be associated with a positive community development and — through branding on bikes and stations — enjoy the exposure of their brand riding around town.
“Zagster allows mid-sized cities like Fort Wayne the opportunity to have the amenities of major metropolitan areas without the cost and complexity of bigger systems like those in Chicago and New York,” says Kathryn Gentz, a member of Leadership Fort Wayne, the group instrumental in bringing bike-sharing to the Summit City.
It’s not just bike-loving organizations backing these programs either. Zagster’s sponsors range from Fortune 500 corporations to local mom and pops. So while Zagster’s partners have brought on board cycling advocacy organizations, health care nonprofits and universities, they’ve also signed up museums, breweries and even, in Lakeland, Florida, a church.
Zagster believes that strong communities build strong bike-shares. And to that end, the sponsorship model exemplifies civic engagement by allowing anyone and everyone in the community to be a stakeholder in the bike-share system.
“Everybody is looking to provide better transportation options,” says Ericson. “They’re always trying to compete with others in the state and so bike-sharing has become an expected amenity in urban environments throughout the world.”
Learn more about Zagster and the collaborative sponsorship model for cities in this webcast Making Bike Share Work Outside of the Big City on Tuesday, December 20, at 2 p.m.