Beginning this week, members of the Muhlenberg community will have access to a brand new bike rental program in partnership with a company called Zagster.
The bike share station, which will be located between Trexler Library and the Center for the Arts, will officially be available this Friday, Oct. 19. There will also be a special kickoff event the following week, on Friday, Oct. 26 at 2 p.m. Kalyna Procyk, sustainability coordinator and professor of political science and sustainability studies, encourages students to attend the kickoff event, as there will be free cupcakes and discounts available for bike rentals for those with the Zagster App.
“The whole goal of this is to give students, staff and faculty the opportunity to bike on campus, [in addition to] taking a trip downtown, doing some shopping, going to your internship, going to a religious service…” explains Procyk. “This is something you can do right now to minimize your footprint.”
“This is something you can do right now to minimize your footprint.”
There will be one station to start, with six available bikes, although the station can hold up to 10. Depending on demand, more bikes and hopefully more stations can be added in the future, says Procyk.
“One of the largest transportation challenges facing higher education campuses is parking, not only for staff but also for students who need to bring their own cars and bicycles in order to get from A-B,” says Karl Alexander, market manager at Zagster. “With Zagster Bike Sharing, we have an opportunity to help Muhlenberg College reduce demand for personal vehicle and bicycle storage while providing a fun, convenient and environmentally form of transit.”
According to Zagster’s company website, they are currently involved in over 200 programs across 35 states, including many colleges and universities. They pride themselves in bikes with “its practical design, comfortable ride and easy handling,” according to their press releases.
Zagster first came to the Lehigh Valley in 2015, when they opened up a bike share station at Lehigh University, according to an article from The Morning Call.
“There were other companies that were looked into, but this one seemed to be a really good fit for Muhlenberg right now,” explains Procyk. “They were very flexible about where we could put the bikes, possible expansion plans, they have bike share locations with a lot of different colleges and universities and they were willing to offer flexibility with pricing.”
In order to get started with the rental process, the Zagster app must be downloaded, which is free on the IOS and Android App stores.
There are two main payment options: the first is an annual membership with a student discount fee of $15 for those with a muhlenberg.edu email account. The annual plan includes a free two hours for each ride, with $1 for every additional 30 minutes.
The other payment option is just an hourly plan for $1 for every 30 minutes.
“The built-in lock on every Zagster bike gives users the freedom to ride as long as they want, wherever they want. This hybrid model, which blends the ability to lock anywhere for mid-trip stops with fixed station locations for beginning and ending rides, allows users to plan their trips around their destinations — and not around station locations,” also notes Zagster in their press releases.
“I really hope it is highly utilized because it’s a great opportunity to do something individual to do something sustainable, and also to be fit, healthy and also to reach out to the community and go see beautiful Allentown, go experience our parks,” notes Procyk. “I’m very hopeful that this will be highly used.”
“I really hope it is highly utilized because it’s a great opportunity to do something individual to do something sustainable, and also to be fit, healthy and also to reach out to the community and go see beautiful Allentown, go experience our parks,”
Even if a bike is rented from the Muhlenberg station, it can be dropped off anywhere, including stations in downtown Allentown.
“College and university campuses are walkable and bikeable, and most often the only reason a student has a car is to travel off-campus. By partnering with organizations in the Allentown community, Zagster will be working over the next year to make biking a reliable and convenient form of transportation for many destinations in the area,” says Alexander.
Procyk also credits The Muhlenberg Environmental Action Team (EnAcT), students in sustainability studies classes, President Williams, Student Government, Dean Gulati, the Office of Campus Engagement, the Treasurer’s Office and the Sustainability Committee, but also many other departments, for their support.
“If you can just get into using a different way of commuting, including bike riding, that could really transform things,” she adds.
Background image courtesy of Zagster.