Universities

How to convince student governments to support bike sharing

Campus bike shares are perfect fits for the transportation habits of today's college students. And in planning a new program, securing student support is a crucial step toward bike-share adoption. We're here to help toward that end, with a sample message students can bring their governing bodies to get the wheel rolling toward impactful new Zagster programs.


Dear Student Government,

Students need affordable, reliable and convenient options to get around. They also want ways to stay fit, and they care about making campus more sustainable.

Bike sharing is a perfect tool to achieve all those goals — and more.

Bike shares are perfectly suited to making the kind of short trips native to a campus environment, and they're perfect for forming last-mile connectors between on- and off-campus destinations. They're incredibly cost-effective, too. Owning and using a car throughout a four-year enrollment adds, on average, $20,000 to college's overall cost, according to Forbes. In contrast, students can spend on average less than $50 per year on bike sharing.

 Zagster launches at the University of Maryland

Zagster launches at the University of Maryland

Plus, bike shares are a great way to fight the Freshman 15.

Bike shares are great investment from the college's perspective, too. It can cost up to $40,000 to build a single parking space in a new structured garage. An entire bike-share fleet can cost less than that — while serving far more users per day.

Meanwhile, bike trips can ease the strain on our existing transit services, making the entire transit system work more efficiently for everyone on campus.

College can be difficult, confusing and expensive. Bike sharing doesn't have to be.

So when it comes to implementation, consider Zagster, a bike sharing company operating more than 140 full-service bike shares across North America, including some two-dozen on college campuses — more than every other provider combined.

 Station installation at Dartmouth College

Station installation at Dartmouth College

With Zagster, everything is included — hardware, software, maintenance and marketing — to minimize costs and make bike sharing as hassle-free as possible. With Zagster, we'll get low, predictable costs, an all-inclusive business model, cutting-edge technology, and a consistent level of service that leaves school administrators wondering why they didn’t do this sooner.

By bringing bike-sharing to our university, you can make a significant improvement to campus. And because bike sharing is a tangible investment, you'll leave a lasting, visible impact on campus you can be proud of long beyond graduation.

Thank you and remember; life’s better on a bike!

To learn more about planning a campus bike share, check out our step-by-step guide to getting rolling.

 

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.

How One Student Brought Bike Sharing to Duke — And Made a More Sustainable Campus

College students can save around $20,000 over the course of a four-year enrollment simply by ditching their cars in favor of alternative transportation, according to Forbes. Or to put it in terms the average college student will understand, those savings translate to roughly 154,000 packages of instant ramen noodles. Of course, subsidizing cheap calories isn’t the prime reason students should consider alternative means of travel. Rather, it's because alternative transportation offers a far more sustainable way for everyone in a college community to get on, off and around campus. Bike sharing, the newest entrant into the campus transportation landscape, is the most sustainable option of all.

That’s the point Zagster CEO and Co-Founder Timothy Ericson made in his keynote address to this year’s Smart and Sustainable Campuses Conference Student Summit. Using Duke University as a case study, Ericson outlined how one student there — Duke Student Government President Lavanya Sunder — built from scratch a successful, effective program with Zagster’s help. Today, Duke’s bike share has 800 active members and is an integral part of the university’s transit network.

Zagster's experienced team is adept at launching and growing campus bike shares. We just expanded our Princeton program sixfold, and are preparing to roll out, in College Park, Maryland, our biggest campus network yet.

So if you’re passionate about campus sustainability, and want to learn more about bringing bike sharing to your college, get in touch. We’ll get you rolling.

For more information on planning a university bike share, read our Free step-by-step guide, available below
 

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Webinar Recap: How to Bring Bike Sharing to College Campuses

 Bike share station placement on campus

Bike share station placement on campus

Building a first-rate campus bike share doesn't have to be difficult. Rather, it can be as easy as watching this short video about, well, building a first-rate campus bike share. Ok, so it's a little more involved than that. But in the video below — a recording of Zagster's webinar on planning, launching, and sustaining bike-sharing programs for colleges of any type and size — you'll learn all the basics you need to get started on your own program.

In the video, Zagster Head of Marketing Nate Taber explains how and why bike shares make for ideal transportation amenities on college campuses. For instance, did you know that installing a single new parking space can cost between $20,000 and $30,000? A complete campus bike-sharing program can get running for less than that while also servicing far more people on a daily basis.

Using Purdue University as a case study, Nate then outlines how Zagster implements flourishing bike shares for our college partners. To give you a sense of what we mean by "flourishing," since Zagster's Purdue program went live last August, students have offset 15,000 pounds of carbon dioxide emissions just by riding our bikes.

But enough about Zagster. On to the video.

Register below to watch our webinar on-demand. You'll also have access a handy checklist to success and a bike share FAQ. And if you have any further questions, our expert consultants are always available to chat.

Princeton University Expands Zagster Bike-Share Program Sixfold

 Bikes on Princeton's campus

Bikes on Princeton's campus

As of this week, Princeton University's bike-share program is bigger and better than ever.

Members of the Princeton community now have access to 60 bikes stationed across nine convenient locations around campus. The expansion represents a sixfold increase from the initial launch, in November of 2014, that brought 10 bikes and one station to the campus.

That kind of targeted growth exemplifies the scalable service Zagster offers to our partners. While traditional bike-share providers typically require large capital investments up front for blanket launches, Zagster allowed Princeton to start small and build out in a smart, sustainable manner.

"The significant expansion of bikes and locations is a reflection of the strong utilization of the existing program and of the demand for an even larger one," said Timothy Ericson, Zagster's CEO. "We've really just scratched the surface of what’s possible on campus and in the town."

Ericson is right. We are just beginning to see how widespread bike sharing can be not just on campus, but in the town of Princeton as well. And to that end, we're delighted that Princeton Mayor Liz Lempert announced last week the town's intent to bring bike sharing to the wider community later this year.

@PrincetonPacket @Princeton @WalkPrinceton Love that @zagster bike share is expanding and more to come!

— Liz Lempert (@lizlemp) March 16, 2016

@WalkPrinceton @christinphillip @zagster Princeton (the town) got grant to set up bike share. Look 4 expansion in late summer/fall! — Liz Lempert (@lizlemp) March 17, 2016

Stay tuned for more exciting news out of Princeton in the near future. And if you're at Princeton and want to get rolling with Zagster, head over here and sign up today.

You can read the full press release announcing Zagster's expansion at Princeton University here.

Become a Campus Bike Share Expert With This Easy Online Workshop

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Building a college bike share may sound like a daunting task. Yet while roadblocks to that goal exist, they can easily be surmounted with the right preparation, planning, and persistence. So whether you’re a bike-savvy genius with a dream program in mind, or a budding eco-activist brand new to bikes, we’ve got you covered with our upcoming online workshop: How to Build a Bike Share On Campus.

When: Thursday, March 24, 2016 Time: 2 pm EST / 11 am PST

So what’s this about? And why should you care? Good questions!

Presented by Zagster’s Head of Marketing Nate Taber, the workshop will cover all the basics of bike-sharing programs: What they are, how they work, and what models work best in a campus environment. Digging a bit deeper, we will also explore why bike sharing fits perfectly into the campus ecosystem.

We will also discuss where Zagster fits within the broader bike-sharing landscape and explain how other colleges can launch successful, sustainable programs of their own. This includes an overview of the timeline for implementing a bike share — including key benchmarks before, during, and after launch — as well as a rundown of common challenges you may face — and how Zagster can help you overcome those obstacles.

A live Q&A session will follow the presentation.

You’ll leave this workshop with all the knowledge and confidence necessary to begin bringing a bike share to your campus.

Why Bike Sharing is Taking Off in America — And Why it’s Here to Stay

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Bike sharing has officially entered the mainstream, with the number of bike share programs worldwide rising from a mere handful at the turn of the century to roughly 1,000 today. The U.S. is no exception to that trend either, with even more programs set to roll out this year in places from Los Angeles to Atlanta.

So what’s driving  that exponential growth stateside?  

There are a few factors. Car ownership has tapered off — and potentially plateaued — especially among young adults. An influx of infrastructure, such as protected bike lanes, has made it safer and easier than ever for urban commuters and tourists to ride in major cities like Philadelphia, Chicago, and New York. And increased educational outreach has helped tamp down fears over the rise of the supposed “all-powerful bike lobby.”

But while a dip in auto usage and a rise in bike infrastructure have certainly boosted bike shares, there’s also a fundamental factor at play — the innovation-driven growth of the sharing economy.

The latter half of the 20th century saw relatively little technological innovation in urban transportation. Yet since then, ever-faster data connections and the proliferation of smartphones have transformed the global economy and given rise to new shared mobility services like car shares, bike shares, and ride shares. Need a car for errands? There’s an app for that. Want a bike for the afternoon? You can be on one in minutes with the push of a button.

The paradigm shift has been most pronounced among tech-savvy teenagers and young adults. Less than 70 percent of 16-to-24 year-old Americans owned a driver’s license in 2013, the lowest figure in 50 years. Meanwhile, a majority of Americans between the ages of 18 and 34 say they would cut back on driving if other transportation options were available. And when given the choice of owning a smartphone or a car, those same millennials are far more likely to say they can’t part with their handheld supercomputers.

Some argue that the sharing economy is a blip born out of the Great Recession of 2008. And while it’s true the economic downturn sharply inhibited spending, there remain underlying reasons why the sharing economy continues to grow and thrive. On a base level, technological  innovation is accelerating urbanization and globalization; it is connecting us to each other, and making our world smaller. And as technological innovation pulls us together, the sharing economy’s logistical barriers continue to shrink. In that light, it makes sense why shared mobility is beginning to thrive as a serious transportation alternative.

As for bike sharing in particular, it’s a fun, low-cost tool to get from point A to point B, or to just explore a new area from a unique perspective. Such programs also offer a more convenient alternative to the hassles of owning a car — especially in a city — or relying on finicky mass transit. In many places around the country, riding a bike to work can actually be the quickest way to commute. And with more communities seeking to improve the health and well-being of their members, bike shares are an appealing way to do just that.

Bike shares allow us to harness the technology already at our fingertips to get where we’re going in a quick, easy, and affordable way. As the sharing economy keeps growing thanks to technological innovation, so too will bike sharing.

This post was contributed by Dave Reed

What does it take to run a bike share?

The biggest factor behind a bike share’s success is not the technology or even the bikes, it’s the people and processes that keep the system running day to day. From planning, launch, education, operations and maintenance, top-notch bike sharing programs have processes and people that ensure great rider experiences.At Zagster, our fleet team makes sure that more than 100 bike share programs across the United States are up and running for every ride.

Jeremy Jo
Jeremy Jo

We sat down with Zagster fleet manager Jeremy Jo to get the low down on what it takes to run a successful bike share.

The Share: Jeremy, welcome. Tell us a little about yourself and the role of fleet operations at Zagster.

Jeremy Jo: Thanks for having me.

Fleet operations at Zagster handles everything that has to do with keeping our bike share programs running. We make sure that there is always a supply of bikes available for riders across our locations. That means coordinating everything from maintenance, rebalancing, replacements, and winterization/storage for every bike.

I started working in the cycling industry at 15 doing sales and service for a local bike shop in California. Eventually, I moved to Boston and studied to be an engineer. Most recently I finished my Masters in Mechanical Engineering at Tufts University and also a Masters in Engineering Management at the Gordon Institute at Tufts as well.

TS: Why is an operations program important for bike sharing?

JJ: I think the best way to describe any sharing system is a supply and demand economy. You need both sides of the supply and the demand to be fulfilled to be able to have successful operations. At Zagster, our supply side is bikes and if we don't have bikes available than we can't keep up with demand which means the demand side is going to drop because riders will know that the supply just isn't there.

So it's important to operate successfully so we can make the bikes available which means that the riders can rely on bike sharing system and utilize the system as a sustainable and reliable mode of transportation.

TS: So the more riders see the bikes are in good shape, are available, are where they want to be, the more they will use them. What are the maintenance considerations that go along with bike share bikes? A lot of people ride their bikes all the time and never bring them into a mechanic.

JJ: I would say that a casual rider would use their personal bike maybe 3-4 times a month. An aggressive commuter might ride 5-10 times a week, but our bikes can see 15 or more rides per day. So you are seeing potentially 5-15x utilization with bike share bikes versus personal bikes.

Because of the level of riding, the bikes need increased attention and that means more care to understand when a part is worn out and even knowing when something is going to break so you can fix it proactively.

So frequency of service intervals is much higher and that’s where the knowledge and skill comes into play because the more efficient and more knowledgeable you are the less time you need to spend on each bike because you know what to look for.

TS: So if these bikes are being ridden a lot more than personal bikes, how often does a mechanic need to visit the system? Is this a regular thing, or just occasionally?

JJ: So this is a tough question to answer because it changes based on scale and it changes based on use. Obviously as you use the bikes more they need more service.

Adding in the operational side of things brings more complexity to the situation. I think that a great way to describe it is there are two sides to the mechanics visits or site visits in general related to bikes.

If a bike has a flat tire, that's a service visit required. The bike needs maintenance so the shifting, braking and everything is running smooth and there's air in the tires, which all falls into the maintenance category.

But then there's the rebalancing and station visit side of maintenance in that you need to make sure the bike share system is running smoothly. This is moving bikes around, reallocating and making sure all the stations have an adequate number of bikes to meet the demands and expectations of riders.

TS: There's more to operations than just having a mechanic on the ground, you someone who's proactively looking at the system and making sure it's operating correctly.

JJ: Yes, but I think there's even more than just that. There's the fleet side of things in terms of being able to address any issues that come up and working with mechanics to resolve them but there's also the support side of things.

Who does a rider go to if something goes wrong? So you need that inbound support request as well as the outbound issue dispatch.

So right now, we have someone at Zagster who does just that. Our rider services team can track a bike down, understand what needs to happen, enter it into the system, follow up with riders and generally be the first line of support. And that is probably something that we find many people don’t have with bike share programs they do on their own and often don’t have all these pieces in place to be able to support the riders.

TS: What would be your advice for communities that are looking at starting bike sharing systems right now? What are the things they should be thinking about?

JJ: I think one thing that often gets underestimated is the number of bikes required in order to have a successful bike share. Anecdotally, we have programs where there is really successful ridership but their complaint is always that there are no bikes available.

This is an artifact of a couple of things: that the operation isn't working in terms of getting the bikes to where they need to be, but more so it's that the program is successful and we don't have enough bikes on the ground.

It's that supply/demand balance. It’s important to budget the appropriate number of bikes so that it doesn't look like the program is failing when it’s really very successful.

Another thing to think about is rider education. Many people know how to ride a bike, but are inexperienced with handling a bike in an urban environment. I don't mean just riding - I mean how to ride on the road, when and where to lock it up - that whole level of rider education is something that we support is well.

Also, on the operations side we have people that really understand how to design bike share systems, who know to determine the optimal system size, if you need overflow parking and where the flow of traffic is. Just for example, on a campus we place stations to try and replicate that traffic flow because the bikes are being used as transportation and they need to be placed in order to make the system successful.

TS: So your team has really baked in these best practices all the way through the service Zagster provides. I mean, this isn't just a bike, part of the whole program is you get the knowledge of these operational best practices.

JJ: Yea, I think that bike sharing is more than just bikes. To launch a successful program there are things that you need to do that people don't even think about before they actually have the bikes on the ground. You need the buy in of the community, you need good equipment and you also need a solid operational plan in order to launch and grow a successful program.

Learn More

Want to run a better bike share? Check out the free Guide to Running a Bike Share here.

Zagster’s planning, launch and operations teams are experienced in managing on-demand bike share networks. 

Get in touch with us to learn more about how we can help you in planning or implementing a bike share program.

 

9 steps to a successful campus bike share

Are you considering bringing bike sharing to your university’s campus? Here are the 9 key things you need to consider as you plan a bike sharing program for your campus. A well run bike sharing program is more than another campus amenity - it’s an integral part of the campus’ transportation network. Considering the factors discussed in this post will empower you to overcome the complexities and challenges of establishing a successful bike share program for your campus.

If you have questions, get in touch. Our mission is to help students, faculty and administrators establish successful bike share programs on their campuses.

Zagster’s planning, launch and operations teams are experienced in managing on-demand campus transportation networks and we are happy to work with you in developing a plan for your bike sharing program.

The 9 steps to planning a successful campus bike share:

  1. Ensure bike sharing aligns with your university’s goals
  2. Design a great rider experience
  3. Determine what type of bike sharing system works best
  4. Evaluate the best location for bike stations
  5. Calculate the number of bikes your campus needs
  6. Create a strategy for your launch, marketing and educational activities
  7. Account for the 7 fundamentals of bike share operation, support & maintenance
  8. Give the university predictable costs & responsibilities
  9. Account for growth and expansion

Step 1: Ensure bike sharing aligns with your university’s goals

Bike sharing programs are a highly visible addition to a campus’ transportation system. In order to launch a successful bike sharing program, it’s critical that you identify stakeholders and clearly demonstrate that bike sharing aligns with the goals of the campus.

Some common campus goals that our partners have achieved with bike sharing programs include:

  • More efficient movement around campus
  • Decrease single occupancy vehicle use
  • Reduce strain on campus parking
  • Reduce campus traffic congestion
  • Improve the health of students & employees
  • Increase the perceived value  of the campus to prospective students & employees
  • Reduce the number of bikes in residence halls
  • Reduce personal bike theft and abandonment

Your campus may have different or additional goals to these. Also, your campus may prioritize these goals differently. It’s important to include all key stakeholders in your discussion about bringing a bike share program to your campus. These include:  Student Affairs and Campus Life, Facilities, Transportation, Residential Services, Business Services, Sustainability Organizations and Student Government.

Step 2: Design a great rider experience

A bike sharing program is only as good as the experience of its riders. Take time to think about and decide on what you want the rider experience to be:

  1. Checkout and Unlocking: Do riders need to talk to someone to checkout a bike? Or do they simply download an app and login with their campus ID?
  2. Level of Availability: Are bikes available 24/7 on-demand or does someone need to be on duty check them out?
  3. Checkout time: How long can a rider take a bike for?
  4. Trip format: Where can a rider take their bike? Does the trip have to end at the station where they first took the bike? Can they stop over and lock the bike up along the way?
  5. Cost to user: Do you provide the program for free? Do riders pay an annual membership, per ride or time based fee? It may be important to select a program that gives you flexibility to adjust the user pricing model as your system matures.
  6. Scope of Accessibility: What kind of bikes are available for riders? Can you offer a mix of bike styles for differently-abled riders or specific tasks (such as cargo-transportation)?

Step 3: Determine what type of bike sharing system works best

Based on the type of rider experience you want to design, you will need to decide between the different types of bike share programs:

  1. Ad-Hoc: Bikes are freely available around campus. No locking or management technology.
  2. Bike Library: Central storage locker. Riders must request a bike in person and are given permission to checkout and use. Also known as a bike corral.
  3. Kiosk/Tech on Station: Riders can rent bikes from an automated station. Riders can only return bikes to open station spots and stopovers trips may be limited based on system design.
  4. Tech on bike: Unlocking and rental technology on the bike. Riders can start and end trips at any rack location. Locking technology allows for stops during ride, in between check out and check in. Trips can be ended by locking the bike to the station, even if an ‘official’ spot is not available.

Step 4: Evaluate the best location for bike stations

Station placement is critical to maximize system visibility and ridership. Stations should be conveniently located, next to, but not in, major thoroughfares. Stations benefit from being easily visible and located near to appropriate trails or roads for biking. You should also consider how you place stations to encourage trips between central and more distant parts of campus, including parking lots, staff buildings and residence halls.

The placement of the bike share stations also depends on aspects such as concentration of students nearby, pedestrian and vehicular traffic passing by, and the availability of protection from weather. Finally, the bikes should be secure at this location and riders should be able to distinguish bicycles of the bike share from other personal bicycles on campus.

Some common station locations for successful campus bike share programs:

  • Central library
  • Dining & residence halls
  • Quad or campus core
  • Key academic buildings
  • Health center
  • Parking lots
  • Campus entry points (gates or roads)
  • Sports centers (including recreation centers and stadiums)

Off campus locations that some universities find add high value to their bike sharing programs:

  • Downtown destinations including restaurant and shopping areas
  • Local transportation centers like bus and train stations
  • Major city areas such as event centers and parks
  • Off-campus student housing properties

Additionally, the placement of stations is dependent on the number of bikes that you have in your bike share system. We recommend a 2:1 ratio of parking spots to bikes, meaning that when the system is perfectly balanced, stations are 50% full. This leaves plenty of room for riders to take and leave bikes and minimizes the number of times you need to rebalance your system.

Step 5: Calculate the number of bikes your campus needs

Accurately predicting the number of bikes you will need on your campus can seem like rocket science. You don’t want too few bikes and have students lose trust in the reliability of the system. You also don’t want too many, with unused bikes sitting alone at the stations.

An ideal number of bikes means that each station is anywhere between 30-50% full at any time, leaving enough bikes to checkout but always enough space for a rider to drop off a bike.

But how many bikes do you need? In general, we recommend looking at four factors when planning your system size:

  1. Total campus population that could use the bike share system, including students, faculty and staff.
  2. Percentage of population that would use the system on a regular basis.
  3. The average number of weekly trips taken by a regular rider.
  4. The average trip time taken by a regular rider.

In general, this means that we recommend campuses to start between 150-300 potential riders per bike in the system.

If you would like more guidance on estimating system size, we work with many campuses to help determine the exact number of bikes to start with. Contact us for further insight.

Step 6: Create a strategy for your launch, marketing and educational activities

The most critical moment of your bike share system is the launch. Strong user adoption and good education will set your program up for success and allow for a ‘snowball’ of user adoption on your campus.

If your launch leaves potential riders with a negative experience due to lack of education, awareness or abuse, the system can snowball in the opposite direction - leading to a cycle of low ridership and mistrust in the system.

Planning your launch day around a time of year when students, faculty and staff are on campus and not engaged with critical academic activities (i.e.: finals week) is essential to any promotional campaign’s success.

During the launch, it is important to host rider education sessions and have compelling educational materials to show riders the right way to use the new bike share system.

Rider promotion is paramount to the success of a campus bike share program. The criticality of a functional, well-designed and aesthetically pleasing station cannot be understated. Additionally, you should think about ways that you and your bike share provider can collaborate to get more people to try the new bike share system and spread the word around campus.

Step 7: Solve for the 7 fundamentals of bike share operation, support & maintenance

Designing, purchasing, installing and launching a bike share system is only the beginning. While these activities are necessary, campuses should be cognizant of the fact that the majority of time and expense related to having bike share will be spent on operations, support and maintenance.

There are 7 fundamental aspects to the long run operations, support and maintenance of a bike share system that you should resolve before you launch your program:

  1. Responsibility. Who is ultimately responsible for the system day to day? When something goes wrong, who gets the call?
  2. Liability. Where does liability fall for bike or property damage? Rider injury? The best bike share programs come with, or set aside, an insurance policy for liability coverage.
  3. Rider support. If a rider has a problem with or a question about the system, who can they talk to? Do you have a reliable, informed and empowered contact that can work with the rider to resolve their issue?
  4. Rebalancing. If you are allowing point to point trips, how often and who is responsible for reallocating bikes evenly across the system?
  5. Cleaning & maintenance. Bike share bikes are ridden significantly more often than personal bikes, sometimes up to 5 hours a day. Also, dirty bikes and stations leave a bad impression and lead to lower ridership. You must identify an entity with experience in bike mechanics that is responsible for regular maintenance of the bikes as well as account for the costs of replacement bike parts and repair time.
  6. Emergency repairs. With any bike share system, parts are bound to break. Sometimes, something as simple as an accidental flat tire can render a bike unusable. When an emergency fix is needed, who is responsible and how does the campus pay for part or bike replacements?
  7. Storage. In some states it may be for snow, in others, hurricanes, tornados or tropical storms. Due to weather or other factors, there may be times when you must take all bikes off the ground for secure storage. If you anticipate this being necessary on your campus, it is critical to have a plan, or work with your bike share provider, to ensure fast and safe storage of your fleet.

Step 8: Give the university predictable costs & responsibilities

The biggest issue many campuses face with bike share programs is that the upfront costs regarding bikes, stations and system launch are fixed and predictable, but the ongoing, everyday expenses of operating, supporting and maintaining a bike share system can be highly variable.

In our experience, these ongoing operational costs can make up the bulk of the university’s cost for running a bike sharing program.

When campuses own and operate their own programs, we see a rough price breakdown of 40% of overall program costs going towards the initial equipment purchase and 60% of overall program costs going towards ongoing maintenance, support and replacement activities.

It is important to consider the long-run responsibility and budgeting ability of the campus. Even the most highly talented and motivated group of students will eventually graduate.  Plan ahead to ensure that the campus can support and operate the program over the course of 5, 10 years or longer.

Additionally, many organizations prioritize budget predictability and stable costs over a rock-bottom price. Keep in mind that ability to reliably plan for the expense of running a program may be more attractive for budget authorities than getting something that is cheaper upfront but fluctuates in its demand for money and time.

Step 9: Account for growth and expansion

Every campus program’s goal should be growth. A healthy bike share is a growing bike share. We see well-run bike shares become an integral part of the transportation network on their campuses, enabling better trips and health adventure for all of the people who work, live and study on campus.

When you plan your bike share, think about the options for growth. As more bikes are added to the system, will there be a way to scale operations in a way that controls costs? Does your system get automatic upgrades and access to new technology or will the campuses need to purchase bikes and sharing technology again?

Its also important to plan for ongoing rider marketing and education. Every year, a portion of your campus will be new students so ongoing activities to help them be engaged with and properly educated about your system is important. The best bike share providers include this in their services and are always working to help the system grow in ridership and influence for the campus.

Summary

Don't underestimate the complexity of launching and running a new transportation network on your campus. Considering these 9 points when planning your bike share program will help you to fully prepare to select the right partners and equipment to allow for successful launch and long-run growth of your campus’ new bike share.

Learn More

Download the free guide Campus Guide to Bike Sharing here.

Zagster’s planning, launch and operations teams are experienced in managing on-demand campus transportation networks. Get in touch with us to learn more about how we can help you in planning or implementing a bike share program for your campus.

Students, Leave Your Car at Home (Here’s Why)

The transition into college is a time of liberation and independence. For many students it marks the abandonment of curfews. It marks the chance to start anew and explore interests at will. At Zagster, we’re here to send an important message: you don’t need a car for any of this.   The push-back is understandable. A car can take you far away from campus and you can escape at the slightest inclination. Yet with the rapid growth of ride-sharing programs like ZipCar and Zimride, you no longer need to own a car to drive one. In fact, having a car on campus comes with numerous burdens. Here are six reasons why you’re better off leaving your horsepower at home.

Owning a car is expensive

The “broke college student” stereotype exists for a good reason. Rising tuition means dwindling spending money, and even cars gifted from your parents can be extremely costly. Think about the price of gas, insurance, and maintenance. Moreover, many colleges are attempting to discourage cars on campus by raising the cost of parking permits. According to Forbes, students who travel without a car can expect to save about $20,000 throughout four years in college.

Parking is inconvenient

Colleges are also taking initiative to make on-campus driving inconvenient. Student parking lots are pushed to the perimeters of campus and more centrally-located parking spots are limited to staff and faculty. In addition, the heavy pedestrian and cyclist traffic on college campuses means drivers must spend precious time frustrated behind busy intersections and in search of open parking spaces.

College campuses are lively centers of activity

Perhaps you owned a car in high school to escape the locker-lined halls. College campuses are often a completely different story. College is your chance to get involved, whether it be through on-campus jobs, school clubs, social events, and everything else that your college offers. Campus is an extremely convenient place to meet people and build friendships, so it is unlikely that you will need to drive miles away to find something interesting.   

You don’t want to be the token “friend with car”

One disadvantage of owning a car is that your friends will soon know it. This may or may not be a pressing issue, but it is very possible that you will be constantly asked for favors in either giving rides or lending out your car. If it becomes too much you can always say no, but the nagging will still be there.

College parking lots are hotspots for crime

Keeping your car on campus runs the risk associated with leaving any expensive possession out in the open. Packed parking lots are easy targets by those looking to cause damage to other vehicles or break in and steal belongings. Leaving your car at home is an easy way to eliminate the risk of getting caught with your windows down.

University-Sponsored incentives

Universities spend tens of thousands of dollars on constructing, monitoring, and maintaining parking spaces on campus. They also have great incentives to reduce vehicle congestion and their carbon footprint. Thus many colleges offer rewards to those who don’t bring their car, such as discounted or free bikes, or free showers. Schools also may implement free shuttle services and subsidize public transportation to further promote car-free travel.

So, grab your textbooks, grease your wheels (two, not four), and experience what pedal power can do for you college experience!

Learn More

Want bike sharing for your school? You can learn more about how to bring bike sharing to your university in our free guide The Campus Guide to Bike Sharing. Read it here.

Presenting: Four University Stars in Transportation Sustainability

Universities are the wheels behind the transportation sustainability movement. With greenhouse gas emissions and vehicle congestion ever-present concerns on and around college campuses, administration and student groups alike are turning to alternate modes of transportation. We’d like to shine a spotlight on four universities doing a remarkable job fueling transportation sustainability. Allow us to present:

Yale University

The prestigious, New Haven-based institution emphasizes in its 2013-2016 Sustainability Strategic Plan “a responsibility to future generations to ensure that sustainable practices are at the heart of our university.” It makes clear that the entire campus community, including faculty, staff, and students, must engage in order to bring about change.

The plan specifically addresses transportation sustainability, a primary goal being to decrease traffic congestion and vehicle emissions. Yale administration actively encourages car-free transit by heavily subsidizing bike share rentals  and providing free helmets upon completion of a bike safety course. It offers incentives for biking and walking to campus, such as use of gym showers and a free monthly breakfast, and it also extends a free shuttle service and discounted parking for carpoolers. Moreover, students, faculty, and staff members can apply to the Yale Green Fund, which allocates up to $25,000 in interest-free loans for innovative solutions to campus-wide sustainability issues. Yale provides ways for its entire community to participate in its push towards greener transportation.

California State University, East Bay

CSUEB has already been recognized in the community for its commitment to environmental leadership. The university won a City of Hayward Environmental Award in 2015 and was praised for signing the American Colleges and Universities Presidents’ Climate Commitment (ACUPCC) in January.

With a student population of over 13,000, CSUEB actively supports many strategies for climate neutrality. For example, it provides free charging stations and priority parking for electric cars. It organizes carpools and vanpools for students and staff/faculty, and provides complimentary shuttle service between campus and two local rail stations. In the fall of 2014, CSUEB partnered with Zagster to encourage a healthy, emission-free mode of transportation on and around campus. And for students interested in sustainability, they can participate in a paid internship through the Pioneers for Change program to engage with university sustainability efforts.

Duke University

Duke University and its Health System are home to 30,000 employees and nearly 15,000 students, so it is no wonder that alternative transportation methods are made readily available. Duke is on two national lists as a “Bicycle Friendly University” and a “Best Workplace for Commuters”, being recognized particularly for its GoPass program, which allows unlimited rides on local and regional bus systems (free to all students and just $25/year for staff and faculty). Duke also offers great perks to registered bicycle commuters, such as free showers at recreation centers and parking passes.

With dozens of campus groups working for a “greener” Duke, it is easy to get involved. Campus Sustainability Fellows (CSF) is a paid student program that helps individual schools at Duke assess and modify their environmental footprint. Students for Sustainable Living (SSL) provides internships focused on education and outreach about living consciously. These programs all support Duke’s Transportation Demand Management effort, which seeks to reduce the number of single-occupancy vehicles traveling to and around campus.

Santa Clara University

Located in the heart of Silicon Valley, SCU is no stranger to innovation. It has taken the initiative to become the 3rd most friendly university for electric cars, with free charging stations for all campus parking permit holders. Carefully addressed in its 2020 Strategic Plan is an objective to “strengthen SCU's culture of environmental sustainability by becoming a climate-neutral, zero-waste campus”, and thus far it has remained true to this direction.

SCU provides several incentives for commuting in an emission-reducing manner. The University partners with Zimride and Zipcar to make carpooling and car-sharing easy. With Zagster bikes conveniently placed around campus, individuals can also partake in the Derozap program, which rewards bicycle commuters with parking passes. There is excellent local public transportation and employees are encouraged to take advantage with significantly subsidized transit tickets. In addition, students, faculty, and staff can all become Sustainability Liaisons in order to increase overall campus engagement, building a strong community around transportation sustainability initiatives.

Zagster Brings Bike Sharing to Princeton

On November 24, we officially opened our newest location, this one in Princeton, New Jersey. Through a partnership with Princeton University, we’ve placed 10 bikes, available for rental by the hour or the day, at the new Princeton Station on Alexander Street (photo above) Zagster is available to anyone who lives, works or studies at Princeton University, as well as members of the public who live and work in Princeton.

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“The addition of Zagster to our transportation options will help us make progress in meeting the University’s sustainability goal of 500 fewer vehicles on campus by 2020,”

says Kim Jackson, director of Transportation & Parking Services at Princeton University.

“When people have options like Zagster, it makes it easier to leave a car at home, which reduces congestion, pollution and emissions on and around campus. We’re pleased to offer the bike rental program and we hope to expand bike sharing to the entire community in the future.”

We couldn’t agree more, which is why we’re focused on expanding the benefits of bike sharing to campuses across the country. So far, we’ve launched on the campuses of Yale University, Duke University, the University of California – East Bay and Santa Clara University, with more coming online soon!

Bike sharing programs are increasingly becoming an effective way for transportation managers to reduce congestion, emissions and parking demand, while offering students a convenient, healthy and sustainable campus transportation option.

Learn More

Want bike share on your campus? You can learn more about how to bring bike sharing to your university in our free guide The Campus Guide to Bike Sharing. Read it here.

How Can Students Work Toward Campus Bike Shares?

It all starts with a problem.

Your first class ends at 9:50, the next starts at 10, and the buildings are a 15-minute walk across campus from one another.

The nearest supermarket is 20 blocks away from your dorm and you don't have a car.

The university isn't doing enough to meet its sustainability goals – or perhaps it isn't setting them high enough.

You've heard of bike sharing; perhaps you've been to a city or campus that has it, witnessed it in action, and realized that it's an ideal solution to many of the everyday problems faced by you and your fellow students – as well as faculty and staff. Identify the greatest problem that bike sharing can solve on campus. If you already have a campus bike share, but it isn't taking off, determine what's preventing it from succeeding.

Design The Solution

Okay, you're focused on the problem – now it's your job to demonstrate exactly how a bike share can solve it. Figure out where to locate bike share stations in order to shorten transit times across campus; plan for stations near dorms so students can get around town on errands; report how many AASHE STARS points and LEED credits a bike share will gain for the university, helping to meet those sustainability goals. Maybe that current bike share is failing because the stations are out of the way and have limited hours – a problem easily solved by upgrading your system to automate checking bikes in and out.

Now that you've got a plan of action, it's time to start talking to the people who can help you make it happen. If you're going to focus on sustainability efforts, contact the sustainability committee – 95 percent of universities have one. If you're going to focus on fixing campus transit issues, reach out to the people in charge of facilities and transportation. Join with other interested students and faculty to form a bike share committee. In general, talk about bike sharing with every person you can – the more supporters you can gather, the better. You'll be surprised how many will listen as long as you present them with a clearly defined problem and a thoughtfully planned solution.

Who Can Help You?

Ready to start making this campus bike share happen? Here’s a short list of administrators to whom you can go with your plan:

  • Vice President for Student Affairs
  • Transportation Planner
  • Sustainability Coordinator
  • Campus Recreation Director
  • Facilities Director
  • Dean of Students
  • Vice President of Campus Life
  • Director of Student Wellness

You're also going to want to reach out to bike share vendors (like Zagster!), present your findings, and get help with the logistics of evaluating and implementing a bike share on your campus. Important considerations include the type of reservation system, who will do maintenance, who will manage the program, dock locations, rental times, membership and late fees, and a timeline for implementation of the campus bike share program. Make sure you keep leaders among the students and administration looped into your conversations with vendors and solicit feedback from everyone.

Ultimately, a university vice president (typically of student affairs, transportation or sustainability) will have the authority to push the bike share plan through its final evaluation by the administration and eventually oversee its implementation. However, you can stay involved with the process by reaching out to various departments and clubs to find funding sources – we can help with that, too – and establishing a timeline for decisions to be made.

Ready to Start Planning?

Learn everything you need to know about how to bring bike sharing to your university in our free guide.

Why It Sucks to Own a Bike in College

You’re running just barely on time for your final exam. Just a 10-minute ride across campus, and you’ll be there with just enough time to slide into your seat before the test starts. You get to your bike, right where you locked it in front of your friend’s house last night – only to find that it’s missing the back wheel.

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We know from experience: owning a bike as a student is a pain. Thefts and attempted thefts happen – universities are meccas for bike thievery. And when you’re a college student with not much money, your bike is one of the most valuable things you own. Meanwhile, many dorms and small apartments lack space for bikes, making owning them inconvenient at best. But the alternative – parking outside – exposes it to weather and thievery. And since college housing is inherently temporary, you have to lug the darn thing from dorm to dorm and apartment to apartment, not to mention home for the summer.

Still, you have to get around, and driving isn’t a good option; getting around on a bicycle is still your best bet. A bike share solves this problem for you and others caught in the same web. Freed from worry over storage, theft and maintenance, but still with 24/7 access to a bike, you realize all the benefits of bike ownership with none of the drawbacks. Zagster lets you own a bike whenever you want without… well… owning one.

Those benefits are why you wanted to own that bike in the first place. Biking is a cheap, quick way to get around college campuses and cities, and it’s a healthy physical activity. It doesn’t need gas because it’s powered by you, and you’re largely powered by ramen noodles and Hot Pockets.

The combination of bike access and freedom from bike ownership is ideal for college students, and Zagster bikes are particularly well suited to the college lifestyle. Let’s face it – the most useful kind of bike to have on campus is a cruiser with a basket, lights, a bell, and fenders. Because it does lack that certain cool factor, not everyone wants to own one – but it sure would be nice if you could borrow one when you need it. All those little bells and whistles are great, but most college students can’t afford them or don’t bother. And Zagster’s mobile phone-based unlocking means you don’t have to worry about losing or forgetting the key to your lock.

But this is about more than just you. Your university as a whole can benefit from Zagster, and we’ve already written a brief guide to working toward implementing a bike share on campus. Bike sharing can be a major step toward achieving sustainability goals (including LEED credits), solve campus transit issues, and help do away with the eyesores of abandoned and picked-over bikes on campus. It’s also a modern amenity that can help attract top applicants and raise your university’s status to that of a leader in technology and sustainability. When your university’s profile is enhanced your degree becomes more valuable. That means you become more attractive to employers once you graduate as a result. So, you’re investing in yourself every time you hop on a Zagster.

Ready to sell your bike and start sharing at your university? Talk to a Zagster expert and get things rolling!

The Beauty Of Simplicity In Bike Sharing

In our quest to design the perfect shared bike, we decided to be different – by being the same.

Our bikes aren’t like those of other bike shares; rather, they’re much more like the bikes you grew up with, the bikes you know and love.

To some, this may seem counterintuitive. After all, why would we try to adapt a machine that’s intended for a different use rather than building one to suit our purposes? It’s not for lack of design capabilities or R&D funding – it’s an intentional choice.

Designed For Riders

Zagster’s strategic partnership with ASI allows us to build our bikes on the Breezer Uptown EX-LS platform, and we feel that its design makes it ideal for bike sharing. The Uptown EX-LS has a wealth of features that make it perfectly suited to our riders:

  • Its design caters to the needs of novice riders without constraining experts. Many bike share riders are relatively new to cycling; experienced users often own their own bicycles, but utilize bike shares to reduce their theft risk and maintenance costs, and to run errands for which performance-oriented bikes are ill-suited.

  • The frame geometry puts rider in an upright body position, eliminating stress on the back, shoulders, hands, and neck so you can sit up and enjoy the ride.

  • The long wheelbase gives it stable handling that compensates for lack of experience, poor coordination, and even mild balance disorders, making it accessible for the masses.

  • Wide tires provide great traction in a variety of weather conditions as well as a built-in suspension, mitigating the hazards of potholes, speed bumps, and gravel.

  • Its step-through frame offers a twofold advantage. First, riders with limited flexibility can easily mount and dismount, which is difficult or impossible for many older people on standard bikes. Second, it offers more everyday utility, as loaded baskets unbalance bikes and make it difficult to mount in standard fashion by tipping them to the side. Try mounting a traditional-frame bike with a gallon of milk loaded in the basket sometime!

  • The Breezer’s intuitive shifting system can be used by anyone. Twist the shifter toward you and pedaling is easier; twist away, you go faster – but not too fast, as the gear range is designed to make pedaling up hills easier while limiting top speed to prevent serious injuries.

But don’t just take our word for it – the Uptown routinely garners accolades from the experts. It’s good to be king!

Perfect For Our Partners

Our bikes offer a lot of benefits to the folks paying the bills, too. Most other bike shares use custom-built cycles, making them expensive to produce and maintain, and slow to deploy.

Zagster doesn’t share those problems. In fact, basing our bikes on a stock model offers numerous benefits to our partners in sharing:

  • Our bikes cost one-third as much as those of other bike shares, giving Zagster the only economically self-sustaining deployments on the market.

  • Damaged and stolen bikes can be easily and more affordably replaced with no degradation of the user experience.

  • Maintenance costs are lower because the bikes use industry-standard components.

  • Our fleets can be deployed rapidly – installed and ready to ride on two weeks’ notice. Contrast this to New York City’s CitiBike rollout, which was delayed for more than a year when its custom-manufactured bikes were ruined by Hurricane Sandy. If this had happened to a Zagster fleet, the delay would have been measured in weeks or even days.

Streamlined For Everyone

The Zagster philosophy of keeping things cheap, simple and high-quality extends to all the key components of our rental system:

  • Familiarity with standard U-locks means riders can use our system intuitively and lock up anywhere they like. Shedding the constraints of station-to-station biking means the world (or at least as much of the world as is within biking distance) is their oyster.

  • We maintain relationships with multiple component distributors, so we never have availability issues for replacement parts.

  • If a bike becomes unrideable and needs to be repaired quickly, a replacement part can be shipped from a distributor’s local warehouse, so even fleets on the other side of the country from our Boston headquarters don’t need to wait for repair parts to arrive.

For reliable, easy-to-use shared bikes that make life easy on riders while keeping costs down and avoiding maintenance issues, you can’t beat Zagster.

Talk to our experts about how you can get started on your own bike share so your community can enjoy the beauty of simplicity.

Why Zagster Makes Sense If Your City Has A Bike Share Program

With the rise of citywide bike shares in places like New York, Boston, and Chicago, our prospective clients in those towns often ask us some variety of this question: Why should I look at a program like Zagster if there’s already a bike sharing program in my city?

That’s a good question; fortunately, we’ve got a good answer.

We’re excited by Boston’s Hubway, New York’s Citi Bike, and other major implementations, but we’ve found that shared bikes are used differently in public settings compared to private settings – that is, in places like hotels, apartment buildings, and university and corporate campuses.

In fact, quite a few of Zagster’s current customers are located in areas that are already covered by citywide bike sharing programs. Why? Your typical citywide bike sharing program is geared toward short, one-way commutes – for instance, our fellow Bostonians can take the commuter rail to South Station, hop on a Hubway bike, drop it off at another Hubway station in the North End or the Seaport District, and go to work.

However, this model doesn’t make sense for many of the hotels and apartment complexes. For a short commute, citywide bike sharing is great as long as you take a bike out for less than an hour, as a non-member, it's $8. But hotel guests and high-rise residents are more likely to use bikes for pleasure – to explore the city, to see the sights, to ride a trail. If you want to take a bike out for four hours, that price leaps up to $54 – not even including the price of a membership. Taking a bike out for 24 hours would cost more than $100! This happens because citywide systems are designed to discourage long-term usage in favor of short-term use by commuters – leaving a gap that can be filled by private bike shares.

The flexible alternative

Moreover, there are many places these cities that are not currently covered by bike sharing stations. With the ability to lock up your Zagster bike at any location, you’re not limited by the station-to-station nature of the citywide bike shares. Similarly, the bikes themselves are more convenient, as Zagster’s cycles are meant to replicate the experience of bike ownership without all the hassles. Citywide bikes weigh a less-than-convenient 45 pounds; if you’re looking to take a pleasure cruise along the river, you’re going to be a lot happier with Zagster’s far lighter Breezer Uptown models.

For hotel guests in particular, citywide systems offer additional challenges. To use citywide bikes as a visitor, you need to find a station (which may or may not be conveniently near the hotel), then sign up for the system and learn its workings. It’s not customized to the hotel, and hotel staff are not necessarily trained in how it works, which can leave visitors in the dark.

Zagster, on the other hand, provides training to the hotel staff, has an easy-to-use rental portal that the hotel’s front-desk staff can use to quickly rent out a bike without a membership, and the system is flexible enough that the hotel can offer it for free – or, at least, at a far more reasonable rate than $100 a day. Moreover, the program’s revenue goes back to the hotel, not the city, and a well-run bike share can pay for itself during busy months.

Apartment and condo buildings, too, are always looking for low-cost, high-value amenities that qualify for LEED credits. Offering a bike sharing program exclusively to apartment renters allows for more flexibility and encourages a healthier, more active lifestyle that can improve a property’s image. Having access to shared bikes can make a real impact on current and future tenants, too -- offering a bike share differentiates a property from its competition while adding real value that can help attract new tenants and retain current ones.

Say you live in an apartment complex and you want to go to Whole Foods; the closest station might be several blocks away, making the citywide bike share a far from a convenient way to go on your grocery trip. However, Zagster’s locking system allows riders to lock up right in front of any destination, do their shopping, and use the same bike to ride back home – all without worrying about having to pay more money if their trip takes longer than expected. Apartment-complex riders have had their lives changed by Zagster cycles, and they’ve even used them in local bike races! It’s amenities like this that make renters renew their leases year after year.

Efficient and effective campus transit

Finally, many universities can be tempted to simply latch on to their local citywide bike share and be done with it. But unless your university is willing to pay millions of dollars to sponsor new citywide bike sharing stations on campus, practical campus transportation problems can’t be solved this way. When cities plan bike shares, they often put stations on or near university campuses; while these are good for helping people get off campus and into the city, they don’t solve the real issues of getting around campus and reducing costly shuttle bus spending.  For the cost of building a handful of stations to join your campus to a citywide bike share, you could completely blanket your campus with Zagster bikes.

Think of citywide bike shares as you would other forms of public transit – the subway may stop by your campus, but that doesn’t mean that students are going to use the subway to get from dorms to classrooms, nor that they won’t use cabs to get around town. The bike sharing market is huge – there’s room for both the rigid citywide models and Zagster’s flexible one that can address different needs.

Interested in bringing a bike share to your hotel, building or campus? Talk to Zagster’s experts and get things rolling!

4 Steps for Planning a Private Bike Share

Citywide bike shares are exploding in popularity across the country, with the total number of shared bikes doubling during 2013.  The majority of that growth took place in large citywide models such as New York’s Citi Bike, Chicago’s Divvy, and D.C.’s Capital Bikeshare, but private bike sharing is poised for explosive growth as well. One thing the citywides all share is the benefit of extensive, professional planning and consulting. But what do you do if you’re looking to introduce a private bike share to your community? Where do you start?

Citywide bike shares, by necessity, are one-size-fits-all. Private bike shares, on the other hand, can be customized to suit your community’s unique needs. Zagster’s 4-step approach will help you gain a better understanding of what’s involved, where to start and how to set your community up for successful bike sharing.

Step 1 – Why do you want a bike share?

There are a variety of reasons for introducing bike sharing to your community, with differing levels of relevance and priority for each unique community. Your first job is to determine the goals and objectives of your bike share. What problem are you trying to solve?

These are just a few of the common reasons for starting a bike share. Some of them may apply to your community or you may develop your own, unique goals. Addressing these factors will form the basis for determining the success of your program as well as the framework by which you evaluate progress.

Step 2 – Who are your potential riders?

The next step is to take a critical look at your community and define the various types of users you anticipate serving. Your community might have one primary demographic – residents in multi-family communities, employees in business campuses, or you might have multiple demographics like undergraduates, graduate students, faculty and staff at a university. Start with the broadest categories and work your way more specific. If your community is residents, you might be able to further sub-divide by bike ownership, activity level, and rate of participation in offered events and amenities.

Once you have an idea of the ‘who’ you’ll want to look at the ‘why.’ Why would each of these groups want to use a bike share? What factors might attract them? What might be the best way to reach these groups and inform them of the resource?

Step 3 – How do your goals align with your potential riders?

After you know who will be using your bike share, and why they might want to use it, it’s time to pull your goals and objectives back to the front. This step is all about alignment. How do the goals and objectives you’ve identified compare to what your community is looking for from a bike share? It’s possible to gently nudge your community towards your objectives, however, if they’re too far divergent you’ll be designing a solution that won’t address any problem and that results in a rarely utilized resource. This process might require that you adjust your original goals or possibly introduce new ones.

This step also provides a great opportunity to seek additional input. Find a few representative individuals from the demographics you’ve identified and have an informal conversation to assess their needs and reactions to your ideas. Bring the topic of bike sharing up at a community event or meeting. A short survey will help you confirm your observations and introduce elements you might have overlooked. At the conclusion of this step you should have a solid idea of how your objectives align with those of your potential riders.

Step 4 – What’s your plan?

With your goals in mind, your potential riders taken into consideration, and some thought given to how these two factors align, your final step is to develop a plan. For example, your riders might be looking for a recreational resource and you might be looking to promote a healthy lifestyle and make use of nearby biking resources like an amazing bike trail.

Your plan should take a look at the possible demand for a bike share, the best ways to make your community aware of the resource, and some options for placement of the bikes so that riders can find them and access both the bikes and the trails easily. Your plan might suggest obtaining 8 bikes, organizing a spring launch with a grand opening event and installing the bikes under a shelter at the side of your building where they will be highly visible to resident traffic and close to the bike paths and trails you’ve identified.

This step is where an industry expert like Zagster can help too. With in-depth experience designing and operating bike share programs at premier multi-family communities, Ivy League universities, and worldwide luxury hotels, Zagster can advance your plan from a dream to a reality.