Cities

Huntsville, Alabama and Pace: How Innovation Spurs Growth

By Chad Emerson, President and CEO of Downtown Huntsville

When people think of the most innovative cities in America, they probably don’t think of Huntsville, Alabama. But they should.

Huntsville was named the fastest growing technology market in the United States in 2017, with an astounding 309% year-over-year growth in technology jobs. That’s no surprise to those of us who know Huntsville’s history. The city has been a tech hub since the 1950s, when the United States government sent a group of scientists here to ignite the country’s early space program. This group eventually became NASA, which has long served as a magnet for the nation’s tech savvy and as a beacon of our innovative nature. But with fewer than 200,000 people, Huntsville can be overshadowed by tech hubs like San Francisco, Boston and Austin. We’re working hard to change that by modernizing and revitalizing our community.  

One of our most exciting new initiatives was the introduction of dockless bike share in early 2018. Bike sharing has been taking the country by storm, but we were wary of some of the well publicized backlash. We searched for a system that fit our view of ourselves as a forward-thinking city. Ultimately, we chose the Pace dockless bike share system. Pace bikes can be unlocked easily on a rider’s phone, providing a more seamless experience for our tech-savvy residents who expect nothing less from us. While it’s fairly easy for pedestrians to walk from one side of our compact downtown to the other, we saw in Pace an opportunity to introduce a transportation alternative that also augments the downtown experience. Now, residents and visitors alike have a fun new way to explore our growing city.

Data from the program shows particularly high ridership on the weekends, especially when the weather is nice. With bike share, residents and visitors can discover the historic areas of Huntsville or travel to the furthest corners of downtown with ease. For some, the program is not only used for recreational purposes, but also for an efficient, convenient way to regularly travel from point A to point B—such as from home to work each morning and home again, or to the grocery store each week. Met with overwhelmingly positive feedback, the program has successfully improved both leisure and transportation in the city.

While bike share has been welcomed in Huntsville by people of all ages, we believed the forward-thinking, sleeker design of the dockless Pace program would be especially appealing to younger riders, and we were right. We are one of many mid-sized cities hoping to get on young people’s radar because we know that attracting and retaining youthful talent is important to our community’s long-term health. Fortunately for us, young people are increasingly looking to move to mid-sized cities, citing reasons like the lower cost of living and a stronger sense of community than they find in bigger metro areas. While these factors are important, we in Huntsville understand that they’re not sufficient on their own. That’s why we’ve worked hard to offer both a happening environment as well as opportunity so young people will consider us a viable place to live and work.

Though an innovative bike share program certainly contributes to the overall vibrance of Huntsville, it’s by no means our only initiative. Two years ago, we launched a comprehensive, ongoing plan to promote neighborhood development, economic growth and the modernization of public transportation. More recently, we signed an agreement to bring 5G technology to the city, and invested millions into the airport to accommodate easier travel.

Each of these initiatives capitalizes on our existing strengths and sends the message that we are committed to long-term growth and innovation. For mid-sized cities to become appealing destination, they have to find their own ways of building on their unique strengths to communicate that they are an interesting and innovative place to live, work and play. Americans have tremendous choices about where they’d like to live. If we want them to choose our cities, we have to give them a good reason. Pace certainly helps Huntsville do that.

 



 

Zagster's Smooth Operator

By Adrian Albus, Zagster’s Vice President of Markets

A long list of things needs to go right for a shared transit system like Zagster’s to work. And while much of a system’s success stems from the people who use it, true success starts and ends with our operations department. At Zagster, we know it’s our responsibility to anticipate our rider’s needs. While many of our competitors are busy investing resources in brand awareness and rapid expansion, Zagster focuses on making sure riders have a great experience every single time they use one of our vehicles.

How do we do that? By zeroing in on the four key pillars of a successful shared transit system, a checklist that the Zagster operations team uses to run more than 250 bike share programs in 35 states: the right vehicles in the right condition in the right place at the right time.

Let’s break it down.

1.) The right vehicles

Everything starts with the vehicle. We determine the kinds of shared vehicles a program needs by conducting an exhaustive study of the place—a city, a campus, a neighborhood—the vehicles will be used. We study the width and characteristics of the streets riders would use. Are they narrow? Are there bikes lanes? Are there curb-protected boulevards? Then we look at topography. Hilly streets dictate a certain type of vehicle, while flat cityscapes mean we can use another, or consider a mix of vehicle types. Mindful of a client’s specific needs, we then determine the best fleet size and mix to roll out in that community.

2.) In the right condition

Once the vehicles are on the ground, our team then prioritizes regular maintenance to ensure the fleet is in great shape so our customers have a safe, enjoyable ride. Bad rides on Zagster vehicles are simply not an option, and we work hard to make sure all our vehicles are running smoothly.

This means the operations team has to know when bikes are damaged, improperly locked or left outside of the system area. We take this very seriously at Zagster; our team is constantly rebalancing our fleet to make sure vehicles are in the places people want them at the time they want them. And so we use this opportunity to inspect each vehicle and make sure it’s running smoothly and do the necessary maintenance required of such a fleet. This takes a lot of time and energy. But investing in safe vehicles is a no-brainer for us. Safety comes first at Zagster

3.) In the right place

We want to make sure riders find vehicles in the places they want them—our goal is to introduce mobility to the neighborhoods and people that need it most. We enter areas where people are experiencing any number of common transportation problems like traffic congestion, low access and high prices. We build a presence in the densely populated, congested downtown areas where potential for ridership is high, but we also look for opportunities to introduce transportation to areas that have been left unserved by transit options—bypassed by subways or bus routes and unserved by livery fleets.

Our rebalancing teams make sure our vehicles are in the right place at the right time. Bikes don’t always flow evenly, especially when used for commuting: a lot of bikes and scooters can end up in downtown areas after the morning commute and need to be brought back to a high-demand area by a member of our team. Our rebalancers use our internal data and analytics, collecting and analyzing figures every day to evaluate traffic patterns across our systems and to figure out how we can adjust the distribution of our fleet to make ridership even easier for our users. By actively measuring and optimizing the use of our shared vehicles, we create a reliable form of transportation that people return to again and again.

 4.) At the right time

To truly transform someone’s daily transit routine, vehicles have to be available at the right time—every time. To make this happen, our team first studies and learns the community’s current movement patterns—who goes where and when, and how do they do it? Is there a better, simpler option? We work with local transit agencies to learn peak traffic times and how use differs across existing transportation options. Our ultimate aim: identify transportation gaps and fill them with a Zagster system.

When we work with a city to launch a bike share program, we make a promise to the community around engagement, equity and safety—all the responsibility of our operations team. Especially in smaller cities, residents likely have a car and affordable parking to fall back on - meaning you only have one, maybe two chances to facilitate a positive experience with your service before they revert to these familiar options. In operations, we recognize the importance of our work knowing that only when you have an effective operations technology and process will people trust shared transit with their trip.







 

The Do’s and Don’ts of Bike Sharing

The need for innovative bike share systems has never been greater. Cities are on a mission to modernize urban mobility to keep pace with the public’s shift away from personal vehicles and toward shared, on-demand transportation. However, bike sharing’s tremendous growth and evolution — most notably the recent shift from dock-based to dockless systems — has not exactly been a smooth ride.

Over the past few years, we’ve seen some cities race headfirst toward a dockless model that took China by storm: blighting streetscapes with a flood of unlocked, cheap bikes to gain market share. But as bikes began piling up, floating away, alighting on telephone poles, and blocking rights of way, cities like Dallas are beginning to question whether this model actually makes sense for American cities.

At Zagster, we’ve been in the bike share game long enough to know this model isn’t sustainable. Informed by a decade of partnering with cities and operating more than 200 bike shares across the US, we know what works and what doesn’t when it comes to bike share in America. Given it’s the start of a new year, when many cities are considering dockless bike sharing, we felt that now was a good time to share a brief list of the most common do’s and don’ts.

If this list resonates with you, be sure to get in touch to learn more about how Zagster and our new dockless network, Pace, can help your city modernize its transportation options without any of the drawbacks of first-gen dockless models.

Don’t...

Build a completely station-based system. Entirely station-based systems are inherently inflexible, require tremendous capital up front and incur enormous operating costs at taxpayer expense. While they put bike share on the map, station-based or ‘dock-based’ bike sharing systems are showing their age and stage.

Go “completely dockless.” While convenient for riders and cheap to execute, first-gen dockless models from companies without much experience in bike sharing have serious drawbacks. With no locks to ensure safe parking, completely dockless or "lockless" bike shares sprawl haphazardly across sidewalks and streets, public parks and even in trees. Second-gen models like Pace and Jump deliver on the benefits of dockless bike sharing, but without the drawbacks. (Check out our video to learn how.)

Ask for forgiveness instead of permission. While it’s easy for companies to scatter 300 bikes across a city and walk away, this approach hinders ridership and risks souring officials and policymakers on bike sharing. Eliminating the dock from bike sharing systems doesn’t eliminate the need to build great partnerships with cities and local businesses.

Do...

Lay early groundwork. To create vibrant, sustainable bike shares, providers should prime community members for the new service to ensure the bike share debuts in a favorable environment from day one. Build a teaser program. Get bike advocacy groups involved. And do a proper launch event with city officials to get things off on the right foot.

Build real partnerships. Bike share providers must engage government officials, local businesses and community members to understand and adequately address their needs, and fill any gaps in the current transportation system. All transit systems should integrate with each other, including bike share.

Stay flexible. As cities change, bike share programs should evolve as well. From installing more public bike racks, to investing in bike lanes and rider education, partnerships that can meet the changing needs of cities are essential for long term bike sharing success.

For a deeper dive on this subject, check out this recent op-ed in Route Fifty by Zagster CEO Tim Ericson.

How to save time and money with a bike-share pilot program

A bike-share pilot program with Zagster produces real-life feedback about bike sharing’s viability in a given community. A traditional feasibility study offers only estimates on that front. And yet, the two cost comparable amounts.

So why would cities spend tens of thousands of dollars on theoretical — rather than actual — data?

That question is on our minds with the news that Grand Rapids, Mich., plans to spend $100,000 for a feasibility study on bike sharing. Though that price tag may sound steep, it’s on par with the cost of feasibility studies in other mid-sized cities around the nation.

For the same cost, a community could launch a 50-bike Zagster pilot program to see how bike sharing works not just in theory, but in practice, with real users delivering real insight into everything from ridership patterns and adoption metrics to hardware functionality and system satisfaction. What’s more, a Zagster pilot program comes backed by the same sort of statistical analysis used in those expensive feasibility studies. The only difference: It comes at no additional cost.

That’s because Zagster offers feasibility analyses as a free service to communities considering bike shares. There are no costs, no strings and no contracts. Interested cities aren’t even obligated to move forward with bike sharing. The feasibility analysis is meant solely as a planning tool to arm decision-makers with the information necessary to determine if bike sharing makes sense for their communities, and if so, how to move forward with implementation.

Here’s how it works. With backgrounds in civil engineering and transportation planning, Zagster’s consultants compile custom reports detailing information vital to anyone interested in building a bike share. That includes an overview of the bike-share industry in general — the available technologies and providers, system launch and expansion trends, and so on — as well as a comparative analysis of your city to similar communities with successful bike shares. It also includes a thorough review of your city and its potential demand for bike sharing, complete with a plan outlining the scope, scale and implementation phases of that potential program.

As a free service, this feasibility analysis is a no-cost, no-risk proposition for municipal planners. If it leads to the nixing of bike-share plans, cities will have saved themselves tens of thousands of dollars by obviating full-blown feasibility studies. And if it encourages cities to move ahead with bike sharing, cities will be better prepared to take the next steps to achieve their transportation goals.

None of this is to say feasibility studies have no place in transportation planning. For megacities, where the requisite scale of new services and infrastructure projects makes small pilot programs unrealistic, soup to nuts feasibility studies are important planning tools. But for everyone else, a pilot program paired with a lighter — yet still comprehensive — feasibility analysis can provide far greater value.

Our Princeton University program is a perfect case study of this. One year after launching as a 10-bike pilot, the program has grown to include more than 100 bikes — a tenfold expansion based not on abstract data but rather on a real-life study of the demand for and value of bike sharing.

It’s a no-lose opportunity for those interested in building great bike shares. So if you’re a decision-maker wondering if a free Zagster feasibility analysis can help you, ask yourself: What do you have to lose?

Complete the form below to request a free analysis for your community. 

Why Zagster is enthralling city planners in cities of all sizes

They say everything's bigger in Texas. But when it comes to bike sharing, it doesn’t have to be that way.

Cities like Brownsville or Corpus Christi would never build rail networks as big as the one serving Dallas — so why would they build bike shares on the scope and scale of a big-city system?

That’s the message Zagster brought last week to the annual conference of the Association of Metropolitan Planning Organizations. There, we spoke with transportation planners, municipal officials and transit advocates from across the country who are eager to bring bike sharing to their communities but unsure how the traditionally big-city amenity could work for them. It’s a refrain we often hear, and it’s a misconception we’re happy to put to rest.

With modular infrastructure, nimble hardware and a business model that minimizes the cost and complexity of bike sharing, Zagster makes bike sharing work for communities of all sizes. It’s why Zagster programs are going strong in environments ranging from real estate properties with dozens of tenants to cities with 500,000+ residents. And it’s why we’re confident we can provide a stable and scalable solution for ever more cities.

For more information on how Zagster makes bike sharing work in smaller cities, check out a case study of our program in Carmel, Ind.

Zagster’s Fort Collins bike share is great — and growing

Zagster’s Fort Collins bike share is off to a fantastic start.

Backed by a host of local sponsorships, the program began in April with 79 bikes and a hope to grow. And indeed, that goal is already coming to fruition. Due to robust usage and strong demand, Zagster will in early October deploy even more bikes in Fort Collins to grow the program by about 25 percent.

This kind of community-sponsored growth is one of the best benefits of Zagster’s programs, and it’s precisely what Fort Collins envisioned when they partnered with us to bring bike sharing to the city. So though Fort Collins was already one of the best cycling cities in America before Zagster came to town, Zagster’s bike share is helping to, as Bike Fort Collins President Bruce Henderson put it, “further Fort Collins to the next level."

So how is Zagster making this bike-loving city even better? We’ll let Fort Collins’ bike experts explain, in their own words, in the video case study below.

Zagster Brings Accessible Bike Share to Westminster, Colorado

Accessible bike share, powered by Zagster

What does an accessible bike share look like? It looks a lot like what Zagster is launching today in, Westminster, Colorado.

Though our standard cruiser bikes work well for most of the people in the communities we serve, there are still some would-be bike-share users who are physically unable to ride them. So in addition to the 32 cruisers we’ve deployed to Westminster, the Westminster bike share also features eight accessible bikes — three handcycles and five cargo trikes — to ensure a more equitable, accessible bike share for all.

Zagster is one of the only bike-share providers even capable of offering this kind of accessible bike share. Thanks to our nimble and flexible hardware, we can deploy trikes, handcycles, and tandems to our stations to meet our partners’ unique demands. As a result, we boast accessible bikes and accessible bike shares all over the country.

Most recently, we earned high praise for bringing an accessible bike share to College Park, Maryland. In the words of one satisfied user of that bike share: “To suddenly have access to a new technology that so many others take for granted is akin to being granted a door to another world.”

The process for borrowing these accessible bikes is no different from how riders check out any other bikes in our fleet. In terms of utilization, however, the accessible bikes offer a wider range of uses for a wider pool of users.

“Just as we believe all communities can enjoy the benefits of bike sharing, we believe everyone within those communities can enjoy the benefits of bike sharing,” said Timothy Ericson, Zagster co-founder and CEO. “Westminster is a testament to both those ideals. We are thrilled to help make bike sharing a reality in this great city.”

The goal of all bike shares is to make cycling accessible. At Zagster, our goal is to make bike sharing itself more accessible. The launch of an accessible bike share is Westminster is just one more example of how we’re working to realize that goal of bike sharing for all.

To learn more about Westminster's accessible bike share, head here.

To read the full press release about Westminster's accessible bike share, head here.

Zagster Launches Pedal Corvallis Bike Share

pedal-corvallis.png

Want to pedal Corvallis, Oregon, but don’t have a bike? Then you’re in luck, because starting today, Zagster is making 33 cruiser bikes and two trikes available for everyone in the Corvallis community to ride wherever they want, as long as they want. The new bike share — aptly named Pedal Corvallis — is a joint partnership between the Oregon Cascades West Council of Governments (OCWCOG), the InterCommunity Health Network Community Care Organization, and Zagster. And though Pedal Corvallis is just getting rolling, OCWCOG is already exploring ways to expand the system through collaborative sponsorships to build it into an even bigger, better bike share to meet the anticipated demand.

“In a community that already values biking, this will only enhance our community’s commitment to a healthy lifestyle and environment for everyone,” said Corvallis Mayor Biff Taber.

Indeed, Corvallis is a truly bike-friendly city, which makes it a perfect place for a bike share like Pedal Corvallis. The city boasts a rare Gold-level ranking with the League of American Bicyclists, and it features 46 miles of bike lanes that cover 98 percent of its arterial roads. It’s no surprise then that a recent survey found that roughly one-quarter of residents regularly commute by bike — the highest percentage in the nation.

We envision Pedal Corvallis boosting ridership even higher by making it easy, affordable, and convenient for everyone in Corvallis to get on a bike and, well, pedal Corvallis. Life’s better on a bike. And with Pedal Corvallis, the City of Corvallis — already a great cycling city — is now even better, too.

For more information about Pedal Corvallis, head here.

To read the full Pedal Corvallis press release, head here.

Successful Local Bike Sharing: A Q&A With Carmel Mayor Jim Brainard

Small-scale, local bike sharing works — and our system in Carmel, Indiana, is a perfect example of how to do it right.

Read the case study: Successful local bike sharing in Carmel

Which is why we were proud to participate in this year’s annual Conference of Mayors, held June 24-26 in Indianapolis, with an opening night ceremony in Carmel. Hundreds of mayors from across the country had the opportunity to see local bike sharing in action as we staffed a special bike-share station at that kickoff gala. The station offered up free rides to interested attendees, and served as a tangible indicator of the positive impact local bike sharing can have in any community.

But don’t just take our word for it: Here’s what Carmel Mayor Jim Brainard had to say about local bike sharing in Carmel when we spoke with him earlier this year.

This interview has been condensed and edited for clarity and length

Zagster: You personally use Zagster a lot. What do you think of it?

Mayor Brainard: I love Zagster. We need to expand, work harder on getting the business community to install stations, but we've got a good base and it's been a great product for us. The bikes are well-built, the technology works well and the public loves it.

Z: Why did you decide to partner with Zagster?

MB: We looked at many providers of bicycles and bicycle-share programs. What is unique about Zagster is the fact that the city doesn't have to have the huge capital investment with your system. We can work to install stations and grow the system in a partnership with community partners and not have the entire burden be on taxpayers.

Z: Did that make it more appealing than other bike-sharing options?

MB: Yes. Not only you can grow it incrementally, but you can grow it incrementally with partners. Emphasis on the partners — community partners, businesses, churches, neighborhood associations. Any institution in the city could add bike stations.

Z: What has been the program's biggest success to date?

MB: The amount of usage. We've had a lot of usage, a lot a bike riding. It's worked out very well for us. Z: How has Zagster improved the lives of Carmel's residents?

MB: We all need to get more active in this country. We have designed cities over the last 60 - 70 years where people aren't required to walk or get any exercise on a daily basis. We're trying to change that in this city by going back to the way we designed cities for centuries before the car came along. A bike share is one of many components to make a city like ours work well.

Z: How has local bike sharing impacted Carmel’s economy?

MB: Zagster has helped our economy in many ways. It’s made it a more fun place to visit, made it a better place for millennials that don't want to necessarily own a car and want to be able to have alternative transportation options. It's just made it more fun for our residents.

Everything we do to raise the quality of life, including creating a bike share with a great company like Zagster, helps make this a more competitive place. A better place.
— Mayor Jim Brainard

Z: And how has it impacted community health?

MB: You don't know how many 70- and 80-year-olds I've talked to who say, 'You know, I was overweight, and I'm getting out everyday now on the trail either walking or riding the bike, riding Zagster.' It really has made the community healthier.

Z: What’s the reception been like?

MB: People were excited about it. People move here because they like our bike programs. I was talking to one man on the trail not too long ago and he said, 'We lived in another suburb about 30 miles away, but found ourselves here every weekend for a variety of reasons, the bike share and trail systems being one of them.' Finally he said, 'Let's just move to Carmel.'

Z: Carmel consistently pops up on "best cities in America" lists. Did you see Zagster or local bike sharing in general as a way to stay ahead of the competition?

MB: Absolutely. It's all about competition. It's about city design. It's about what we do with what we have — and Zagster is a part of that puzzle.

Z: How so?

MB: Everything we do to raise the quality of life, including creating a bike share with a great company like Zagster, helps make this a more competitive place. A better place. It's not just always about getting jobs, it's about making sure it's a good place for the people who have chosen to spend their lives here.

Z: What would you say to other cities that are considering local bike sharing for themselves?

MB: I would encourage them to get bike-share programs. For all the reasons we've discussed: it's healthy for the community, it creates a sense of community, it’s alternative transportation, it saves money on building roads, it’s healthier and it’s just fun.

Z: What would you say to convince the skeptics out there that think that these types of programs are a waste of money?

MB:  Number one, I’d say the city spends very little on it because of the structure that Zagster has provided.

Z: So what's next?

MB: We're going to continue to redevelop our center core into a very walk-able city, built at five levels basically with bicycle facilities in every building and bike lanes seen basically everywhere in the community.

Zagster Brings Bicycle Sharing to Conference of Mayors

The future of bicycle sharing is headed to the U.S. Conference of Mayors. In fact, in a sense, it’s already there. That’s because the annual meeting takes place June 24-27 in Indianapolis this year, with opening night festivities in neighboring Carmel — one of Zagster’s many municipal bicycle sharing partners.

Read the case study on bicycle sharing in Carmel

Carmel’s thriving bike share already has 80 bikes and 10 stations. But to serve the influx of attendees, and to tout a key aspect of award-winning Carmel’s progressive transportation planning, Zagster is partnering with the USCM and the city to host a temporary bike-share station at Friday night’s kickoff gala at Carmel’s Palladium and Center Green.

All attendees will have the opportunity to take Zagster bikes for a free spin around the event. Our team members will be on site to answer any questions and to help get people rolling. And because bicycle sharing is becoming an expected amenity in cities of all sizes, we’ll have some succinct informational materials to distribute to everyone interested in bringing bicycle sharing to their communities.

We’re ecstatic about the opportunity to serve mayors from across the country and to show off Carmel’s lauded bike share. But don’t just take our word for it that bicycle sharing is going great in Carmel.

Our local partners hail the Carmel Bike Share as “very successful” and a “great program for the community.” And The Indianapolis Star, noting that we quadrupled our Carmel fleet in just one year while also expanding into the neighboring town Westfield, recently wrote that the program is “off to fast start.” It’s no surprise, then, that we’re already seeing interest in expanding the system yet again to the rest of the county.

“Everything we do to raise the quality of life, including creating a bike share with a great company like Zagster, helps make this a more competitive place,” says Carmel Mayor Jim Brainard. “A better place.”

We agree, and we hope everyone in attendance at the USCM’s annual meeting gets a chance to take a spin, see why bicycle sharing is all the rage in Carmel, and learn what bicycle sharing can do for their communities, too.

Collaborative Sponsorship: Local Bike Sharing's Funding Solution

Local bike sharing works for cities of all types and sizes — so long as they first have proper funding. And until recently, that financial roadblock prevented many municipalities from even considering local bike sharing as a feasible transportation option. Zagster is solving that problem. Through a public-private model of collaborative sponsorship, Zagster makes local bike sharing a reality for small- and mid-sized communities nationwide.

Watch the webcast: How to Secure Bike Share Sponsorship

So what is collaborative sponsorship? How does it enable local bike sharing? And how can it bring local bike sharing to your community?

The short answer is that collaborative sponsorship brings communities together to share the costs and benefits of local bike sharing. Anyone in a community — businesses, non-profits, property developers — can sponsor a bike share in return for branding opportunities. It’s a win-win for everyone: Sponsors see a visible return on investment, and communities get better for all their members — including those same sponsors.

For the longer answer, though, and for a complete guide to safe and scalable local bike sharing, check out our free webcast on collaborative sponsorships. (It’s pre-recorded, so you can watch any time.) In just a few minutes, you’ll learn everything you need to begin building or expanding a great bike share of your own. Plus, the webcast comes with handy reference sheets to walk you through the process.

Life’s better on a bike. And through collaborative sponsorship, we make local bike sharing possible so anyone, anywhere can experience that quality of life.

How Collaborative Sponsorship Solves Bike Sharing’s Funding Conundrum

Collaborative sponsorship lowers the costs and risks of bike sharing to make it viable for cities of all sizes to implement bike shares of their own. Though bike share was once prohibitively expensive for smaller cities, this model of private-public sponsorship enables these municipalities to harness community support to fund strong, successful, and cost-effective bike shares of their own.

But how does collaborative sponsorship work in theory? How does collaborative sponsorship work in practice? And why is collaborative sponsorship an ideal solution for cities with budgets insufficient to alone support bike sharing?

Join Zagster on Thursday, June 9th at 2 pm (EDT) for a free online workshop to learn more about this pioneering model and how cities of any size can benefit from it. This webinar is designed to guide participants through the various sponsorship opportunities and the challenges involved in building a collaborative network of bike-share sponsors.

How to Secure Sponsorship for Your Bike Share Thursday, June 9th at 2 PM ET

In this hour-long webcast, Zagster Head of Marketing Nate Taber will discuss:

● The benefits of collaborative sponsorship

● How to secure sponsors for a bike-share program

● Case studies of successful bikes shares utilizing this model

This webinar is intended for anyone actively exploring funding options for a municipal bike share, as well as anyone who would like to learn more about bike-share funding and collaborative sponsorship in general. We’ll discuss the bike-sharing industry’s move toward collaborative sponsorship, and how that model can work for any system — including yours.

Strong Communities Build Strong Bike Shares

Bike shares 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. We’re changing that paradigm.

“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.”

Smaller cities don’t build mass transit like big cities, so why would they do the same when it comes to bike shares? Zagster's model enables these smaller communities to build bike shares tailored to their needs and, crucially, built within their means.

Watch the Webcast: How to Bring Bike Sharing to Your Community

One way we reduce bike sharing’s cost to cities — and taxpayers — is through 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.

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, we've also signed up museums, breweries, and even, in Lakeland, Florida, a church.

“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.

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.

Register below to watch a recording of our recent webcast: How to Bring Bike Sharing to Your Community

Introducing mBike: College Park’s bike share solution for the present — and future

College Park’s Terrapins can now move faster than ever.

That’s because today, the City of College Park and the University of Maryland debuted their expansive and highly anticipated bike-share program, mBike. With 120 cruiser bikes and five accessible bikes stationed around town — including at both Metro stops — mBike enables the entire community to move more efficiently around College Park and the region.

With mBike, Zagster affords College Park all the benefits of bike sharing at a fraction of the cost of other bike-share providers. And with the program already proving successful — initial plans called for 100 bikes, though that number increased prior to launch due to increased demand — College Park hopes to ultimately expand mBike into an integral piece of the region’s broader transportation network.

“We’re moving College Park forward by providing easy access to biking and its many benefits,” said College Park Mayor Patrick L. Wojahn. “mBike fills gaps in our current transportation system, giving people an easy way to get to and from the Metro, as well as around campus, all without increasing cars on the roads.”

mBike exemplifies bike sharing’s ideal notions of reciprocal responsibility, benefit, and opportunity. Built in partnership between College Park, the University of Maryland, and Zagster, mBike brings together each party’s unique resources to reach a mutual end: Making it easier for everyone in the College Park community to get on a bike and ride.

“The partnership between College Park and the University of Maryland is an ideal model for how multiple stakeholders in a local community can come together to fully realize the mutual benefits of bike sharing,” said Tim Ericson, Zagster co-founder and CEO. “They are showing that it’s possible to have big city amenities in a college town.”

In other words, mBike is a win-win for everyone.

Read the full mBike press release here.