Elon SGA Launches First Bike Rental Systems on Campus

By Matt Holzapfel

The Student Government Association at Elon University has teamed up with the bike sharing company Zagster to bring a new bike rental service to campus. Students will be able to rent and ride a bike for up to 11 hours at a time. Junior class President Rachel Hobbs was the one spearheading the initiative and working with Zagster to get the program off the ground and make it a reality.

Where did the idea come from?

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Bike Rental station at Danieley Commons

“About two years ago, students brought the idea of a short-term bike rental system to SGA’s Student Issues Committee,” says Rachel Hobbs. “We decided that we should look into the idea. I met with department heads, looked at other schools with systems, surveyed the student body, and eventually wrote legislation to fund a pilot station for a program with the company Zagster.” Bikes have become increasingly popular at Elon on a campus that is not big enough for students to drive everywhere, but not necessarily small enough for every student to be able to walk to everything all the time. This program will allow for students who don’t have a car or a bike of their own access to an alternative to walking, which can be an unpopular means of transportation, especially in the winter time.

What is Elon’s relationship with Zagster?

Zagster has worked with many college campuses to implement bike rental systems, according to Hobbs. “They provide all the services related to installation and maintenance.” Since this just a preliminary test to see how well the program works on Elon’s campus, there will only be two stations for renting and returning Zagster bikes for now. One will be located outside of Danieley Commons, the other in the Lakeside Plaza. “They (Zagster) will also be able to help us assess the success of the pilot and determine if the program should be expanded.”

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Map from bike.zagster.com/Elon (Rental stations marked by blue bicycle icon)

How does it work? Can anyone use this program?

There are extensive details and step-by-step instructions on Zagster’s Elon website, but the actual process of renting, using, and returning the bike is pretty simple. First, the bike-rental program is open to anyone at Elon University with a valid Elon email address. img_0339If you have a valid email address, you then have to download the Zagster app which available from the Apple Store and the Google Play Store. Once you have the app you select Join and you can create an account using your Elon email. After that, you enter your zip code or the name of the Zagster program you want to use, in this case, “Elon” and you’re in. Once you’re at the desired bike station, you enter your four digit bike number, which can be found on you selected bike, into the app and select start ride. This will give you an unlock code specifically for the bike that you selected. Once you have put that code into the keypad on the back of the bike, press Enter and the compartment on the back of the bike will open, displaying a key inside. This key can be used to lock and unlock the padlock on your bike when you want to start or stop riding it. Then you can remove your bike from the docking station and ride it safely wherever you please. When you are finished with your ride, return your bike to the nearest docking station and input the same code from before into the lockbox on the bike to get your key. Lock the bike back into the dock, return the key to the bike’s lockbox, and click “End Ride” in your Zagster app. You will then get your trip summary and the amount that you owe for your ride. No worries, however, as the first three hours of your trip are always free! After that, you just pay $3/hour for up to eight more hours.

Why bring this program to Elon?

“This idea came directly from the student body, so it’s a way for us to put their ideas into action,” says Hobbs. “Additionally, it fits with the sustainability goals of the university and provides an alternative form of transportation.” Should we expect more programs like this one if it proves to be successful? “I can’t really speak to separate initiatives showing up around campus but the program could potentially be expanded in the future. However, that would depend on the success of the pilot!”
More information about Elon’s partnership with Zagster can be found at bike.zagster.com/Elon. For more information about Zagster in general, you can check out their website at www.zagster.com.
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