Strong Communities Build Strong Bike-Shares

Sponsored Post: How Zagster helps cities of all sizes build their own systems.

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.

Zagster, a Boston-based startup that operates more than 130 bike-shares across North America, is changing that paradigm.

“Zagster is focusing on bringing a solution that works for the rest of the country,” says CEO and 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 and far-flung entities 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.

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, healthcare 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 in the webcast How to Bring Bike Sharing to Your Community. You can also check out the brief case study of Zagster’s bike-share program in Carmel, Indiana.

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Nate Taber is the Head of Marketing at Zagster.

Tags: bike-share

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