Review: Roanoke’s New Zagster Bike Share Program.

Sets of white bikes at bike stands have shown up around Roanoke.  I hadn’t heard about the new ride share program until I drove past a new bike stand in Grandin Village.  Later I spotted a Facebook news article which informed me a company named Zagster runs the new program.  The bike stand locations are displayed on the map below.

Mrs. JumpStart and I downloaded the Zagster ap to our phones.  We chose the yearly membership for $20.  The annual fee includes a one hour ride per day.  Extra hours are 3$, with a max charge of $30 per day.

There was an hourly rental option, discounts for students, and discounts for residents of certain buildings.

I was unclear if the hour ride had to be done all at once. After googling research was futile, I opened a chat on the Zagster web site, and posted my question as shown in blue below.

A message that nobody was available for chat popped up, and it offered to email a response.  I entered my email, and got dressed and ready for a bike ride.

During my research, I watched an outdated video on Youtube about unlocking Zagster bikes.  When we got there, the system was totally different. 

The current procedure:

  • Click “start ride” on the Zagster ap.
  • Enter a 4 digit bike code found on the bike into the ap.
  • A 6 digit unlock code pops up on your phone.
  • Enter that 6 digit code on the bike.
  • An unlocking clicking sound happens.
  • Slide the cable out.
  • A timer begins counting up on the ap.

The bike was clean and felt heavy and sturdy.  It has a basket, kickstand, 5 gears, and a light.  The cable can lock the bike anywhere, but the timer continues running, unless it is checked into a Zagster bike rack.

And we were off.

We headed towards Beamer’s, which is a Downtown restaurant named after the beloved Hokies coach Frank Beamer.  Another Zagster bike rack sits in a convenient nearby parking lot.  The ride was a little over 2 miles and it took us 16 minutes.  There were lots of empty spots on the rack.  We checked our bike in, and got a message on the ap that the charge was 0$.   It was Memorial Day weekend, and we began walking toward Festival in the Park. 

Sunday afternoon is not a great festival time.  There were a few food trucks, and some stands selling stuff. There were trucks and workers preparing for the evening concerts, but no music happening.  We walked right through the middle of the festival, and continued down Jefferson out of Downtown until we got to Moe’s.  Our two mile walk had earned us a guacamole break.

After the break I peaked into the window next door, and was disappointed by the lack of progress on the new Star Hill tasting room. It appears all they have done is hung a vinyl sign.

A car was loading kayaks near the new launch as we continued walking toward Roanoke Memorial Hospital, the location of another Zagster bike rack.  We checked out another pair of bikes, and hopped onto the nearby Greenway. Our return trip took 24 minutes to bike 3 miles back to Grandin Village.

Mrs.  JumpStart’s phone was running the Mapmywalk ap during our trip.  The ap didn’t work great, and there is some weird backtracking, but our general path is displayed below.

When we checked in our second set of bikes, a message on the ap displayed a charge of 0$ again.

24 hours later, and I still have not received a response from Zagster about my question.  My credit card shows a couple of $20 pending charges and no 3$ charges.  My current conclusion is that you get a full hour of free ride time per day, and it can be broken into separate chunks, as long as the bike is checked into a Zagster rack, when you are not riding.

Potential Bike Trips.

This creates some great possibilities for biking destinations.  Venues include Elmwood Park, Dr. Pepper Park, and River’s Edge.  There are Zagster bike racks near great restaurants in Grandin Village, Wasena, South Roanoke, and Downtown.  Center in the square, the Taubman, and the Transportation Museum are also options.

Later this year, if I travel really light, I’ll be able to ride a bike Downtown, and catch the train.

Slightly more elaborate date night plan.

Walk/drive to Grandin village and grab a bike.  Bike Downtown, lock up the bikes, and grab a drink at Beamer’s, Tucco’s Tacos, or Soaring Ridge.  Walk further into Downtown, and catch the free trolley to south Roanoke.  For dinner, head over to Fork in the Alley or River and Rail.  Grab another bike at the hospital, and ride on the Greenway back to Grandin Village.  Walk/drive home.

Other neighborhoods.

It occurred to me that I have written most of this post from my perspective, and ignored residents of Downtown, Wasena, and South Roanoke.  There are great destinations in my neighborhood (Grandin).  Grandin restaurants include Village Grill, Scratch Biscuit, Grace’s Pizza, and Local Roots.  Grandin Theatre and Pop’s is also a great combo for movie and ice cream.

Morning bike rides would be perfect with a stop at Scratch Biscuit.  Ask for the JumpStartfromScratch biscuit (spicy chicken with honey).  It is not on the menu, but I believe Nate should add it.  I would find it funny if they were flooded with that order.

Remaining Questions.

What happens if everyone in Grandin rides to Roanoke Memorial on their way to the Fuel concert at  Dr. Pepper Park and all the spaces in the hospital bike rack are full?

Will a 3$ charge pop up on my credit statement.

Will Zagster ever respond to my question from screen chat, or are they all still out biking?

What happens if all 12 of my readers go to Grandin, get a bike at the same time, and there isn’t a bike left for me?



Be sure to check out the follow up post with some of the answers here.

Posted in Local (Roanoke).

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