Cargill Incorporated has become a new sponsor of the RIDE Solution Bikeshare program in Vinton.
On July 25, Cargill Plant Manager Philip Brownlow along with several members of the Cargill Cares Committee presented a check for $3,600 to Jeremy Holmes, Director of RIDE Solutions, which will cover participation in the Bikeshare program in Vinton for two years.
Bikeshare by RIDE Solutions is a partnership with Zagster, a Bikeshare provider from Cambridge, Mass. It is based on a sponsorship model where the costs of starting and operating new stations are covered by community-minded local businesses.
RIDE Solutions is a sustainable transportation program operated by the Roanoke Valley-Alleghany Regional Commission in cooperation with the New River Valley Planning District Commission, Region 2000, and the West Piedmont Workforce Investment Board. The organization provides multimodal trip planning services for citizens and employers throughout Central and Southwest Virginia.
The check presentation was made at the Vinton Farmers’ Market with Assistant Town Manager Pete Peters representing the Town of Vinton. Tim Pohlad-Thomas from RIDE Solutions also attended, along with Rodney Whorley, Gary Kent, and Jesse Sanson from Cargill Cares.
“Thank you to Cargill and their Cares Committee for their generous support in the amount of $3,600 for our #Zagster Bikeshare Station at the Vinton Farmers’ Market,” said Peters. “We are very fortunate to have such wonderful business partners in our community!”
Cargill is one of the world’s top producers and distributors of agricultural products such as sugar, refined oil, cotton, chocolate and salt and the largest privately held company in the United States, based in Minneapolis. The corporation was founded by the Cargill family in 1865 and has remained in the family ever since.
Cargill Cares believes that “investing in our local communities is an essential part of our commitment to being a responsible corporate citizen. We know our ability to grow as a company depends on the way we treat people, how we enrich our communities and how well we serve our customers. We are passionate about our goal to be a leader in nourishing the world in a safe, responsible and sustainable way; and we understand the significant responsibility this entails.
“We have always tried to invest locally and keep a strong presence in the community and this gave us an opportunity to participate with the Town of Vinton and Roanoke County,” said Brownlow. “Cargill likes to put money back into the community.”
Cargill was familiar with the Vinton area in particular due to working with Southern States in the past.
Holmes said that sponsorships are needed to bring Bikeshare to communities and that he was delighted to welcome Cargill to the Bikeshare program, especially in Vinton. He reminded the public that now “you can get to downtown Vinton from any other Bikeshare station in the valley in less than an hour.”
“We are so excited to have Cargill and their Cargill Cares Committee as a new sponsor of Bikeshare by RIDE Solutions,” said Holmes.
According to Peters, the RIDE Solutions staff has begun a weekly marketing campaign to increase awareness of the program and the Vinton Bikeshare station is set to be featured on the “weekly highlights” that provide suggestions for locations or events to ride a Zagstar bike to. The second annual Creekfest, sponsored by Twin Creeks Brewing Company on August 18, and the Vinton History Museum are two features that will be appearing in the coming weeks.
The Vinton Bikeshare station, located at the back of the Vinton Farmers’ Market, was added to the network of stations in the valley with a ribbon-cutting on April 25. It was the first Bikeshare station to be located outside of Roanoke City.
RIDE Solutions launched the Bikeshare program in the city in May 2017 in partnership with Zagster, one of the leading providers of private and public-private bike sharing systems in the nation.
Bikeshare began with 10 stations in Roanoke and has quickly expanded. Holmes says that they hope to establish up to four stations in Salem and are currently scouting locations there.
The Bikeshare system is easily accessed by downloading a Zagster mobile app from the App Store or Google Play using a Smartphone— or users may go online. They select a membership plan or hourly plan, follow the instructions to unlock the bike, and start riding. The app indicates where stations and bikes are available locally.
Bike rentals are $3 an hour with the option to purchase a $40 annual membership that permits riders to use a bike for up to an hour per day at no extra charge. If they use the bike for more than an hour, they are charged $3 per hour.
The bikes are available to adult riders ages 18 and over who can park anywhere, stop for errands or recreation, and then remount and continue their journey.
Bikeshare enables individuals to check out a bike from stations all across the Roanoke Valley, ride as long as they want, and return the bike to the same or different station. There is an employee who “rebalances” the stations so that bikes are generally always available.
Holmes said the Bikeshare program has far surpassed expectations with over 2000 members signed up in the first year.
Bikeshare invites corporate sponsorships with significant marketing and advertising opportunities. The cost for sponsoring a station is $9,000 with the cost for each bike set at $1,800 per year with a two-year commitment. Sponsors are needed for the system to keep expanding at both the station and bike level.
The Town of Vinton is one of the sponsors of the Vinton Bikeshare program. Peters said they are finalizing agreements with other sponsors in addition to Cargill, whose brands will be prominently displayed on the station and the bicycle baskets.
The average Bikeshare bike makes 200 trips per year of about 29 minutes each, generating over 2,000 impressions per trip and 400,000 impressions per year. Bikeshare introduces people to new businesses along the routes and encourages spending.
Bikeshare is seeking multiple sponsors to add stations and bikes to the local program, which includes station placement consideration, brand inclusion on the station, on bicycle baskets, and on the system website, and free membership passes. Sponsorships of bikes can be shared.
As of July, Peters says that the Vinton station is getting a fair amount of use on par with other stations within the system, taking into account an extremely wet spring and relentlessly hot summer.
For more information on Bikeshare contact Pete Peters at the Town of Vinton, at 983-0607, or Jeremy Holmes at firstname.lastname@example.org or at www.ridesolutions.org/bikeshare.