That’s the idea behind a Massachusetts start-up that hopes to deliver fleets of bikes to university and corporate campuses, apartment communities, hotels and resorts.
The company, Zagster, already operates in about 55 locations, including Yale University and the Hyatt hotel in Cambridge, Mass., the company’s home.
Last month, Zagster received $1 million in investment funding to take its bicycle-on-demand program nationally.
Bicycles have proven popular in many cities, where they can bridge the transportation gap between home and station, and station and workplace – sometimes call the first- and last-mile problem.
City-sponsored bike-share programs help alleviate traffic congestion, parking shortages and crowding on mass transit. Currently, more than 60 university campuses and many corporate campuses also run bike-sharing programs, and demand appears to be growing, say officials with the Transportation Sustainability Research Center at the University of California, Berkeley.
Zagster charges clients a monthly fee to supply and maintain the bikes. The company also provides the software to manage the fleet. The client can decide whether to charge residents and guests for access or offer the bikes as a free amenity.
Each bike has a lock box, which users open with a code they receive via cellphone text message. Inside the box is a key to the bike’s lock.
Environmentalists have long argued the virtues of bicycles over gas-engine cars.
Zagster has developed a way to calculate the emissions avoided by bicycling instead of driving. Company executives told the New York Times they are in discussions with the World Bank on the potential use of Zagster’s system during the 2014 Summer Olympics and the 2016 World Cup in Rio de Janeiro, which has created a low-carbon city development program in cooperation with the World Bank.
Bicycling has numerous other health, environmental and financial benefits. Here are five of them, according to David Fiedler at About.com:
— Improved health, in the form of increased cardiovascular fitness, strength, balance and flexibility, endurance and calories burned.
— Improved mental state. Riding a bike is a proven stress releaser and energizer.
— No harm to the environment from noise, exhaust or emissions. Bikes don’t consume oil or gas.
— Less time wasted in traffic.
— Financial savings. It costs between 20 and 30 cents per mile just to operate a car. This doesn’t include the hidden costs of vehicle ownership such as depreciation, taxes, and insurance. If your daily round-trip commute is 16 miles, for example, riding a bike twice a week will result in savings of over $400 in operating costs alone in the course of a year.