After first year, midstate bike share programs see what attracts riders

Written by Rachel McDevitt, All Things Considered Host | Dec 18, 2018 3:37 PM

Bike Riders take off from the back of the Pennsylvania Capitol Building as the Department of Transportation, the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, the Department of Health and the Department of Labor & Industry joined other state and local officials in kicking off Bike to Work Week May 16-20 by announcing the launch of a new interactive mapping tool for BicyclePA routes.

(Harrisburg) -- A full year into bike share programs in some midtate cities, communities have a better idea of what works and what doesn't.

Zagster, the company that runs the bike-shares, says Hershey, York, Harrisburg, and Lancaster have all seen a mix of uses.

Karl Alexander, Zagster's market manager for central Pennsylvania, said Harrisburg is the largest system. It accounts for about half the use in the region, with roughly 11,000 rides in the first year.

"Harrisburg as a system has definitely proven to provide for some transportation options in the downtown--getting to the train station, etc. But primarily, the majority of use has been for recreation purposes, whereas in some other communities has been more point-to-point," Alexander said. 

Alexander added the midstate initiaitves seem to attract more riders when they allow opportunities for recreation, as well as commuting.

York and Harrisburg both have the advantage of having bike paths through their downtown areas that are close to bike share locations.

Lancaster's program is mainly used to connect the downtown, but first-year participation fell short of expectations.

Both it and York are both looking at increasing the number of locations where bikes can be picked up and dropped off, as a way to promote the initiative.

Alexander said the company believes a critical next step will be working with midstate stakeholders to create a more regionalized system.

"What we really want to do is make sure that we can expand this to be a regional program from what we see right now as local systems at the end of the first year," he said. 

Alexander said Zagster is also working to offer bikes that don't need to be returned to a specific location as a way to promote the service and increase participation.

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