Riverfront bike share program set to begin by October

by Tina Alvey Dale ([email protected]) 1,619 views 

A bike share program, to be managed by the Fort Smith Parks Department, along the Arkansas River in Fort Smith should be running by October.

Reports shared at the Future Fort Smith meeting Monday (Aug. 19) and the Fort Smith Central Improvement District meeting Tuesday (Aug. 20) said the bike pad at the River Park Events Building on Riverfront Drive will be poured soon and everything is running on scheduled for an early fall launch.

The Fort Smith Board of Directors approved a three-year contract with Zagster Inc. on June 16. According to the contract, the city will pay $18,000 a year for the program. Zagster will provide bikes and equipment. Bikes will be rented through a mobile app on a user’s smartphone, according to city records.

Western Arkansas Planning and Development District and Frontier Metropolitan Planning Organization worked to provide the service. Frontier MPO partnered with First National Bank of Fort Smith and the Coca-Cola Bottling Co. to provide donations and grants for the first year, said Reese Brewer with Frontier MPO. The program is now under the direction of the Fort Smith Parks Department.

“Coca-Cola and First National Bank of Fort Smith donated $10,000 each for the program,” Brewer said. “That’s a little more than the cost of the first year.”

Chris Raible, a member of the Future Fort Smith committee, said the Fort Smith Parks Department will pick up the cost of the program unless other donors help.

The program will have 10 white “cruiser” style bikes, Brewer said. According to the Zagster website, the share program is fairly easy to use. Users join Zagster and chose their plan. Annual memberships are $25. With that, a user can rent a bike for free for one hour (two on weekends) and $3 an hour after the initial hour, with a maximum rental of $30. Users can also pay by the ride, which is $1 for 30 minutes up to $20 a ride.

For a ride, users choose their bike and enter into the Zagster app. They’ll receive a unique code that will unlock the bike. After the ride, the user returns the bike and locks it.

“We are really excited about the bike share program,” Brewer said.

Zagster offers programs for communities of all sizes to participate, providing the equipment, software and a mobile app. The self-service bike share will allow individuals easy access to bicycles to enjoy on the Greg Smith River Trail, Raible said.

“It makes it easy to enjoy riding the trail if you don’t have a bike or you don’t want to haul yours down there,” he said. “It’s really a pretty neat thing.”