Yale introduces new bike-share program

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Eleanor Marshall ’16 had an opportunity to try a Zagster bike during the “Rock to Rock Ride” between East and West Rock parks on April 20. (Photo by Kimberly Pasko)

Just in time for the warmer weather, Yale community members now have a new way to pedal around campus.

Transportation Options has launched a six-month pilot with the bike-sharing company Zagster. The company has provided Yale with 50 brand-new “city cruiser-style” bicycles and an online reservation system that is available to current students, faculty, and staff. Zagster’s bike-share concept is adapted for the campus environment and is less costly for people to use than the programs in Paris, Washington, D.C., and Boston

Like Zipcar, Zagster first requires an online registration and a payment of a $20 annual membership fee — which will be fully reimbursed for registrants who subsequently complete a Bike Safety class offered by Yale Environmental Health and Safety.

See the 2013 Celebrate Sustainability events

Once registered, members can make reservations either via the Zagster website or by texting Zagster from any of 10 Central or Medical campus locations, or bike “pods,” most of which are located within parking garages to provide additional shelter and security.

Bikes must be returned to the same location where they are picked up. During the first six months, there is no usage fee, but members who return bikes after midnight on the day the reservation begins will incur a $30 late fee.

According to Holly Parker, director of Sustainable Transportation Systems, “riding a bike is fun. Now it’s fun and easy. It adds another sustainable solution to your transportation options at Yale.”

Yale is Zagster’s first full university deployment. Parker will work with the company to analyze data on program usage over the next six months to see how well the program is utilized on campus. She encourages all users to provide feedback through See Click Fix. Use the Issue Title “Yale Bikeshare” when reporting an issue or making a suggestion.

“This is a great opportunity for engaging the University as a “living lab.” We want to ensure that the program best serves our users, and we will listen closely to them. The result of capturing and compiling feedback from the Yale community about this bike-share program is that we will have a program that is tailored our community’s needs,” says Parker. “We earned a Bicycle Friendly University Award last fall, and this is another way to encourage people to use bikes.”

“More than 40 percent of urban trips in the United States are less than two miles,” she adds. “On our campus, the average distance has to be less. The bicycle is the most efficient form of transportation for that kind of trip.”

“Biking lets you burn carbs, not carbon,” jokes Parker.

If the program is well received in the pilot phase, it may be extended. The program is funded by Tom Kempner ’75, who also supports the Yale Cycling Team.  

For information about this and other transportation options, visit to.yale.edu.

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