Monday, August 3, 2015

Zagster bikeshare in Ashland, Oregon

Yellow bikes attached to bikeshare docking stations off Water Street in Ashland, Oregon

There’s something so cheerful and optimistic about this bright-yellow bikeshare fleet, viewed off Water Street in downtown Ashland, beneath the Lithia Way Overpass.

The Water Street station is one of five low-cost bike rental locations in Jackson County, Oregon. (There are two bikeshare stations each in Medford and White City.)

Zagster, a company in Massachusetts, provided the seven-speed bicycles and the program was sponsored by United Way of Jackson County through a grant from Jackson Care Connect.

The first step toward riding is to join the program through or via the Zagster app. It costs $20 per year.

Once enrolled, members enjoy free use of the bikes for rides shorter than two hours. After that, they pay $1 per hour, up to $6 per ride.

Each bike is equipped with a lockbox that contains a key to the U-lock attaching it to the docking station. Riders can activate and end their rides through the Zagster app or text-messaging. With the key and U-lock, they can keep their bikes secure if they need to make stops along the way.

In an editorial, the Ashland Daily Tidings expresses concern that a credit-card requirement may keep low-income residents from using the bikeshare program.

I think it’s important to acknowledge this barrier, but to then ask, “How can ...?” instead of simply saying “I can’t.” I remind myself of this distinction in other areas of life.

A solution that came to mind involved debit cards issued by banks and sold by chain retailers. Perhaps grants or donations could put these cards in reach, with their use specifically allocated for the Zagster memberships. What other ideas can you think of to remove barriers to ridership?

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