Cobb County expands bike sharing program

The Town Center Community Improvement District has a partnership with Zagster to offer a bike-sharing program.
The Town Center Community Improvement District has a partnership with Zagster to offer a bike-sharing program.

Cobb commissioners last week voted to approve expanding an initiative that will allow bike sharing companies to set up shop around the county.

Commissioners at their June 25 meeting held the second and final public hearing to amend the county’s ordinance to allow bike sharing companies to offer their service to residents around Cobb. The ordinance requires companies to obtain permits to operate in the county, and regulate where bike-sharing stations are placed. It prohibits users from parking them in a way that would impede traffic flow or block sidewalks. The new law would also require bikes to meet federal safety standards.

The ordinance opens up the mobility program to the entire county that's been popular in Cumberland and Town Center community improvement districts, which have each been using a pilot program with bike rental company Zagster.

A Community Improvement District is made up of commercial property owners within district boundaries who tax themselves to pay for public infrastructure projects. With Zagster, cyclists can use a credit card to check out a bike from a docking station and ride for a certain amount of time for a fee calculated per hour or by the day. The bikes, some of which are electric, are returned to the station once users are done.

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The Town Center Community Improvement District has had its pilot program with Zagster since November 2015, Town Center CID Executive Director Tracy Rathbone Styf previously told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. There are five stations with 40 bikes across the area, which encompasses areas around Chastain Road, Cobb Parkway, McCollum Parkway, Barrett Parkway, Bells Ferry Road, Town Center Mall, Kennesaw State University and Cobb County International Airport.

The stations are at the Bells Ferry trail head, Town Center Mall, Aviation Park, Founder's Park and Avonlea on Chastain Meadows Road. A sixth station will soon be installed at Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield Park. The Town Center CID spends about $7,800 per year per station to operate the program, Rathbone Styf said. At the end of May, the program had about 14,000 registered members and logged about 216 trips each week.

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Kyethea Clark, director of operations for the Cumberland Community Improvement District, told the AJC that its pilot program with Zagster began in August. From that month through May, the CID logged 3,038 trips and averaged about 11 trips each day. It has 1,522 active members. The CID area includes areas around The Battery, SunTrust Park, Cumberland Boulevard, Akers Mill Road, Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area and Cobb Energy Performing Arts Center.

There are three Zagster bike stations in Cumberland: the National Parks Service Paces Mill and Cochran Shoals units along the river and The Battery. The CID pays about $9,000 per station each year to maintain the program. Clark said the CID is looking to expand the number of bike-sharing docking stations within its boundaries, which will go hand-in-hand with its bike share expansion plan that would install about 13 stations around the district.

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