Zagster partners for suburban bike share

The days of believing bike share programs can only work in urbanized areas with significant bike infrastructure may be coming to an end as Florida's St. Lucie County partners with Zagster to launch suburban bike sharing system.

With a population density of 486 people per square mile, St. Lucie County isn’t a place the average person would equate with being pedestrian or bicycle friendly. Nevertheless, despite what others believe may not be possible isn’t stopping St. Lucie County from developing a unique bike sharing program to serve an area with dispersed development. Armed with a $63,000 Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) grant and $27,000 in county funds, St. Lucie County has teamed up with Zagster to establish a two-year trial bike sharing program serving areas within its two largest cities, Port St. Lucie (pop. 185,132) and Fort Pierce (pop. 45,295).

Consisting of nine bike stations and 50 cruiser bicycles, the new countywide bike-share program is intended to increase connectivity and mobility throughout the county. Unlike systems commonly found in urbanized districts, the initial bike stations are a mile to four miles apart to cover a larger area. According to county transportation planner and transit systems coordinator, David Engel, they’ve discovered that although there are a fewer amount of trips, the duration of the average suburban bicycle trip is longer. So if station locations exceed five miles a part, the connectivity becomes more limited. However, for the system to be ultimately sustainable and expand, the county will need to be successful in securing financial support from local institutions and businesses.

St. Lucie County - Zagster Bike Share

In the meantime, the partnership between Zagster and the county calls for the county to pay the bike sharing company to maintain and operate the system. In addition, the county retains 93% of the operation’s bike rental fees, while Zagster keeps the rest. Bicycle users aren’t required to pay membership fees for the program. Anyone with a valid credit or debit card, cell phone and over the age of 18 can rent a bicycle for $1 per hour for up to 24 hours.

So if you’re in an area that doesn’t have bike share and decision makers are claiming that it’s because of low density or lack of urbanized bicycle infrastructure, tell them that’s an excuse and to look to St. Lucie County for an example of how to successfully move forward and implement.

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Images by Ennis Davis, AICP of Modern Cities. Davis is a certified senior planner and graduate of Florida A&M University. He is the author of the award winning books “Reclaiming Jacksonville,” “Cohen Brothers: The Big Store” and “Images of Modern America: Jacksonville.” Davis has served with various organizations committed to improving urban communities, including the American Planning Association and the Florida Trust for Historic Preservation. A 2013 Next City Vanguard, Davis is the co-founder of Metro and — two websites dedicated to promoting fiscally sustainable communities — and Transform Jax, a tactical urbanist group. Contact Ennis at