The Bikeshare program has added a bike station in Vinton, located at the Vinton Farmers’ Market, with bicycles available for short-term rental around the valley.
Jeremy Holmes, director of RIDE Solutions (a program of the Roanoke Valley-Alleghany Regional Commission), welcomed guests to the ribbon-cutting celebrating the event on April 23.
RIDE Solutions launched the Bikeshare program in Roanoke City in May 2017 in partnership with Zagster, one of the leading providers of private and public-private bike sharing systems in the nation.
Vinton Mayor Brad Grose said Vinton is especially thrilled that the new Bikeshare station is the first one to be located outside of Roanoke City. While there have been many ribbon-cuttings for new economic ventures in the town in the past two years, the Bikeshare program is directly accessible to all citizens for transportation and recreation and gives those from outside the town a reason to visit Vinton. He praised the location of the station at the Farmers’ Market as ideal.
The mayor said the new Bikeshare station also adds the “cool factor” to Vinton.
Vinton Area Chamber of Commerce President Justin Davison expressed his excitement with the new service, especially with the connections it will allow with the numerous greenway trails in the Vinton area and the downtown business district.
Tim Pohlad-Thomas from RIDE Solutions gave pointers on how to easily access the Bikeshare system 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 program began with 10 stations in the City of Roanoke and quickly grew. They hope soon to expand to Salem, Roanoke County, and beyond.
The bikes are comfortable with wide, adjustable seats for adult riders ages 18 and older with a flexible lock so that riders can park anywhere, stop for errands or recreation, and then remount and continue their journey. Helmets are not included.
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. He expects 15,000 to 20,000 trips will have been taken by the one-year mark.
There have been few incidents during the time the Bikeshare program has been in existence in the Roanoke area— no thefts and only minor vandalism. The bikes are equipped with technology that enables Zagster to keep up with where they are at any given time.
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.
Assistant Town Manager Pete Peters said the Vinton Bikeshare is finalizing agreements with six sponsors, including the Town of Vinton. Their 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.
For more information on Bikeshare contact Peters at the Town of Vinton, 983-0607, or Jeremy Holmes at firstname.lastname@example.org.