New bike sharing program to debut this month
Students waiting for the bus will soon have an alternative set of wheels at their convenience.
Duke will be welcoming a new system for bike borrowing by the end of the month. Zagster, a bike sharing company used in several cities and on other college campuses, is currently in the process of setting up shop at Duke. Duke Student Government president Lavanya Sunder, a junior, made the bike program a priority in her platform last Spring and has seen it through its development.
“It has taken a while to launch, but I think it will be worth it,” Sunder said. “In light of the construction, I hope it will make it easier to navigate campus.”
The Zagster bike program will include 50 bikes at four different locations—one at the East Campus bus stop, one at the Central Campus bus stop by Devil's Bistro and two on West Campus, one between the Social Sciences and Allen buildings and one by Penn Pavilion.
The program should launch by Sept. 22 if all goes according to plan, said Chuck Catotti, director of event management.
Interested students can register for the bike program on the Zagster website or on a mobile app, available for Android and iPhone. A $20 annual membership fee will cover the first three hours of any ride. Each hour of bike use after the first three costs $2, which will be pulled from a separate account that students can set up. The money can be refunded if it is not used.
Once registered, a student can choose a bike from one of the four racks, insert the bike’s number into the app and use a code to remove it. Bikes come with a lock, Sunder said, and they also have a GPS tracker.
Sunder and Catotti both said they believe Zagster is an improvement over the previous program, which housed bikes in the West Union building and then the Arts Annex for longer-term loans to students. The program was canceled in Fall 2013 due to low use.
Sunder describes the new program as “a completely different model.” Based on the New York City bike program, Zagster allows for quick commute rides, rather than taking a bike for several days.
“We have a great bus system, but buses are not coming every minute.... If you have a bike, that’s something immediate," she said.
The estimated bike travel time between East and West campuses is eight minutes, approximately the same time it takes to catch and ride a bus.
The overall cost of implementing Zagster is estimated to be $60,000 per year. Vice President of Administration Kyle Cavanaugh, former provost Peter Lange, Vice President of Student Affairs Larry Moneta and Executive Vice President Tallman Trask are key contributors, according to a PowerPoint presentation by Sunder. DSG has made a small financial contribution to the program.
“I’m just so happy,” Sunder said of the project's approaching start. “Not for personal reasons, but I think it will transform the way people move between campuses."
Correction: This article originally stated the Office of Parking and Transportation funded the program. The Chronicle regrets the error.