By Doug Usher
The Bike Library has long been a staple of Fort Collins. But, as of April 2016, the program is changing directions, aimed at increasing accessibility of bikes for both residents and visitors alike. Now dubbed “Bike Share,” the program keeps the best elements of the old system, mixed with new technology, new bikes, and best of all, 24/7 access from multiple locations. I sat down with Stacy Sebeczek, director of the Fort Collins Bike Library and got the details on what’s changed, what’s the same, and what to expect in the future.
According to Stacy, the old Bike Library faced several major obstacles, mostly related to availability of bikes and the ride-ability of the aging fleet. So the decision was made to partner with a company called Zagster to provide a new, technology-driven system, while still maintaining the human-staffed Bike Library at the Downtown Transit Center.
Under Bike Share, users have 24/7 access to bikes, and can even access customer support by phone 24/7. Instead of going to the Transit Center to get a bike, users can find bikes at one of 13 stations around town. To use bikes, you first need to become a member. This costs $7 a day, $15 a week or $65 a year. With membership, you get access to unlimited 30 minute rides within your membership period. The system runs through Zagster’s smart app, so you can hop on a bike, ride it to a new station, park it and then come back when you’re ready to grab a new bike. As long as you don’t exceed 30 minutes on a given ride, there’s no extra charge, and you don’t need to return the bike to the starting station. If you want to take a longer ride, its only $2 for each additional hour.
Stations are supported by sponsors, who get various perks including logo placement and a share of the membership dues. The remaining dues go back to the Bike Library and directly support staff at the Transit Hub. This human element is what makes our system so unique. Library Staff can provide tips, info on where to ride, rules of the road, maps, and a variety of other things to both local and visiting cyclists. Additionally, users can visit the Bike Library to buy a helmet for only $5. The Library is planning to add more helmet stations in the future (along with additional Bike Share stations). This new system allows Bike Library staff to spend more time interacting with users and empowering them through knowledge. And if you don’t have a cell phone, you can always come to the Transit Center to get a bike during operating hours.
Under the new Bike Share system, bikes are already seeing greater usage than at this time last year. The system is easily expandable as more sponsors come on board and add stations around the city. If you’re interested in sponsorship or in learning more about The Fort Collins Bike Library and Bike Share, check out bikefortcollins.org/what-we-do/bike-share or email Stacy at firstname.lastname@example.org.