Visitors to the new Dinky station will have noticed the covered bike stand at the entrance from the campus side of the platform. A peek inside reveals ten shiny new white bikes available for rent courtesy of the bike sharing service Zagster.
In conjunction with Princeton University, Zagster has launched Princeton’s first bike sharing program. For an annual membership fee of $20, members of the University community and Princeton residents will be able to rent bikes by the hour. The bikes are free for the first two hours and then $2 per hour after that. They can be rented by the hour or by the day for up to $20 for a maximum 24-hour rental.
Zagster members must be at least 18 years old. Bikes can be accessed by creating a Zagster account via the Zagster Mobile App, (available for iPhone and Android), or online at: www.zagster.com/princeton.
Designed to offer a convenient and healthy way to get around town, the bike sharing program was inspired by similar programs in Europe. “When I was a student at Imperial College in London, I took a trip to Paris and saw the advent of the VЋlib’ program there; I wanted to do something similar in the states,” said Zagster co-founder and CEO Tim Ericson.
Launched in 2007, the Parisian system is now the world’s sixth-largest bike sharing program, second only to those in China.
Zagster was founded in Philadelphia in 2007 as CityRyde and is now headquartered in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Mr. Ericson began talking with Princeton University about the possibility of a program in Princeton. “We were one of the first bike share companies in the country and we helped bring the concept of bicycle sharing to the United States,” he said in a phone interview Tuesday. “We don’t normally launch a new program in November but the University wanted this to coincide with the opening of the new Dinky station and that made sense. We hope that by the spring, the bikes will be there and people will know about the program. This is a great first step in a broader campus and community-wide bike initiative.”
The new Arts and Transit neighborhood has been the draw. “With great new transit connectivity via rail and bus, and with students on campus who prefer two wheels to four, the Zagster program will enable sustainable, healthy, and convenient transportation options for all,” said Mr. Ericson.
To rent a bike, riders simply log in to their account, enter the unique ID number of the bike they wish to use and the app provides an access code for the lock box mounted on the back of the bike. Riders can use the code throughout the duration of their rental to lock and unlock the bike anywhere along their trip. Once the bike is returned to the Zagster location at Princeton Station, the touch of a button ends the rental and releases the bike for the next rider.
“At the moment there is just one pick up and drop off location and so a bike might sit around outside your office all day but we’ve priced the rental so as to take this into account. As the program grows, more stations will be added around town,” said Mr. Ericson. “That’s how it has worked in other cities — we started with 50 bikes in Detroit and now have three times that number with more locations for pick up and drop off. Lyon, France, a city that had no infrastructure for bicycles, now has one of the largest bike share programs and we are confident that bike sharing will take off in Princeton and you will see a lot more Zagster bikes in the coming year.”
The Breezer Uptown bikes are made in Taiwan and assembled in Philadelphia. They are known for being lightweight and of durable construction, specifically designed for city riding. All bikes come with carrying baskets and an attached flexible lock.
“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,” said Kim Jackson, the University’s director of transportation and parking services, in a press announcement of the new program. “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 it in the future.”
Currently, Zagster has hundreds of bikes deployed in more than 30 cities/towns in more than 20 states. Zagster has partnered with leading brands, including General Motors, Hyatt, Novare Group, Quicken Loans, Yale University, Duke University and others. For more information, visit: www.Zagster.com.