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Bike-Share Program Being Tested in State College

by and on August 26, 2019 5:00 AM

The bike-share program on the Penn State campus has been rolling since 2017, and now in the final year of its contract with Zagster, it is has added a one-year trial station to drop off and pick up bikes across from the front of the State College Municipal Building at 243 S. Allen St.

Currently, Zagster offers on-demand bicycle access at 17 locations around campus with 85 bicycles available. The program is brought with financial support from the University Park Undergraduate Association. The pilot expansion into State College Borough is a partnership between UPUA, Penn State and the borough to determine the feasibility of expanding the program in town. The program is also adding three more stations on campus this year.

“It is going to be where the bike repair station and community bike rack is right across the street from the Bill Welch Plaza," parking manager Rick Ward at the borough’s transportation commission meeting on Aug. 13. "It will be there for one year and then we will use the pilot program as a determination of how much the bikes are used, what kind of nuisance or benefit they are to the borough and then look to a recommendation to move forward based on that.”

State College Borough recently asked residents to fill out a survey about the bike-share program to engage residents. State College communication specialist Douglas Shontz presented results from the survey to the transportation commission. He said that of the 61 people who took the survey, 40 said they would use a bike-share program if one was implemented in the borough.

Commission member Diana Malcom said that a few things stood out from the comments in the surveys: the borough needing more bike lanes, the safety of riders in the bike-share and the feeling that bikes are often left in random spots throughout town.

“Residents are concerned that bikes are left all over the place and residents and people of the borough find that to look bad," Malcom said. "Personally I am one of them. Often they are not even parked. They are just thrown somewhere, so that is something we need to address.”

UAPA said a study conducted during the first year of the program showed that bike-share riders were safer riders than people on their personal bikes.

“It turned out that people using bike share were more careful, I guess because they haven’t been on a bike in a while so they were more vigilant,” Penn State Alternative Transportation Program Coordinator Cecily Zhu said. As Penn State finishes its current contract with Zagster, she said a lot of the concerns that people have might be solved as they look to potential future providers of the service.

“In looking at what else is out there in the market, a lot of the newer systems have more accurate GPS tracking on the bikes so you won’t have the issue with bikes left all haphazardly.

“A lot of comments are that we want more station. But also the cost aspects are how many can we feasibly put in at one time. We are looking to hopefully solve that with the next RFP,” said Zhu.

“I think this is an incredibly positive step forward. I hope that one of the findings is that there is a need for more stations so that bicycles don’t get deposited in a non-stationed location,” said transportation commission member Huge Mose.

 



This story was produced by the staff at the Centre County Gazette. It was re-published with permission. The Centre County Gazette is a weekly publication, available at many locations around Centre County every Thursday morning.


Vincent Corso is writer for Town&Gown and the Centre County Gazette.
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