The operator of Rochester's new bikesharing program is touting its success.
"It's gone as about as well as we could have hoped for and we saw a tremendous number of people signing up right out of the gate," said Jon Terbush, a spokesman for Zagster.
The program launched on July 20. In the first seven-and-a-half weeks, more than 6,000 riders logged about 13,000 bike rides. Riders are 55.5 percent male and 44.5 percent female.
They’re still getting used to the idea that they can pick up and return a bike to any public bike rack in the city; it doesn't have to be a Zagster station.
"It took a little while for users to understand that this is a feature built into the system,” Terbush said, “so we started to see more of this off-station usage in the past few weeks."
While the city’s bikesharing debut is being celebrated, eleven Zagster bikes from the Driving Park Avenue bike station were vandalized in the past two months. "Someone tried to pry off the locks to basically steal them,” Terbush said. “Trying to do so essentially renders the bike useless. The way the locks are held on with security screws, there is no way to damage or remove the lock without destroying the bike."
Zagster now wants to move the location of the Driving Park station, saying it is more prone to vandalism than they would like. The city would have to clear the way for any new site. The damaged bikes were taken off the road, and as part of Zagster's agreement with the city, they will be replaced at no cost to taxpayers, Terbush said.
There are currently 340 bikes located at 46 Zagster bike stations around Rochester, but the company hopes to expand the size and scope of the program by partnering with more businesses and organizations willing to sponsor a bike station.
"Part of what we want to accomplish in Rochester and every community where we work is to promote a vibrant bike culture,” Terbush said. “It's great if people want to ride our bikes. We also would love it if people just ride bikes in general. Our mission is to make the bike the most loved form of transportation."
Bikesharing is a seasonal program that will go into ‘hibernation’ in the winter months. The bikes will be stored in a warehouse starting sometime in November and they’ll be returned to their stations in the spring.