An exciting new bike sharing system is making its way to Fort Collins this spring. The system will be designed to complement the existing Fort Collins Bike Library, which allows people to check out and return bikes just as they would books in a library. Currently, the Fort Collins Bike Library only has one location (250 N. Mason Street) from which to check out bikes; but with the bike share program, bikes will be available all throughout the city. The new bike sharing system will offer an automated, self-checkout system with conveniently located public bikes that are readily available for shared use.

Bike sharing is an innovative program that offers people a network of bicycles, combining the accessibility of public transportation with the flexibility of short-term recreational bicycle use. Bike sharing provides affordable modes of transportation for people, whether they need to ride to work or simply want a carefree, healthy way of cruising around town. These programs provide great alternatives to motorized public transportation and private vehicles and encourage people to engage in healthy activity through inexpensive prices. Bike share systems are comprised of automated, self-service bike checkout stations throughout the city at which people can check out bikes from one location and return to another.

This new automated bike share program will be launched in conjunction with Zagster, a bike-sharing company based out of Massachusetts. Zagster operates 150 bike share systems in 35 states, but this will be the first system in Colorado. Zagster’s director of sales, Ted Bronstein, recently told The Coloradoan that their “goal is to expand on the bike culture and evolve the bike services in Fort Collins with the bike library to take it to the next level.” At least six of these bike-sharing stations will be launched across town. The number of bikes that will be available at each location has not yet been determined, but Zagster is working with both the city and local bike organizations to assess demand.

Fort Collins’ bike sharing program will be unique in that it will collaborate with the already established Fort Collins Bike Library. The Fort Collins Bike Library was set up in April of 2008 and since has checked out over 27,000 bikes. Fort Collins Bike Library is the result of collaboration between FC Bikes and Bike Fort Collins in order to provide Fort Collins residents with affordable access to bikes for both commuting and recreation. Bikes can be checked out for $10 per day, but if returned by 1 PM on the same day, the fee is waived. You simply pay the rental fee, which includes a lock and helmet, pick up your bike(s) at the Hub located inside the Downtown Transit Center, and the return the bike at any time of the day.

Most bike share systems are exclusively automated, but the Fort Collins system will have the Fort Collins Bike Library headquarters in the Downtown Transit Center as a hub where people can ask questions, find route maps, and get suggestions of places to visit. The Fort Collins Bike Library is getting bigger and through this new program, the city is hoping to build something that is “entirely special to Fort Collins.”

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