Bicycling Turlock may soon be more accessible to residents and visitors alike, as the City Council approved an agreement with bike share company Zagster.
The nationwide bike share company will be conducting a feasibility study into bringing its services to Turlock. If determined viable, Zagster would then seek Council approval to install several bike stations around the city. Through a mobile app, users of the service would be able to gain access to a bicycle and incur fees based on the length of time he or she has the bike.
Zagster will be seeking sponsorships with community and business groups to launch the service. The company has bike shares in towns like Cascades, Oregon, which is 100 percent sponsored by the private sector, and Carrolton, Georgia, which is supported with grants from the National Park Service, the Outdoor Foundation and two local foundations. Both Cascades and Carrolton are university towns, similar to Turlock.
Improving connectivity to Stanislaus State and Emanuel Medical Center is a main goal of the program, according to Brian Patnode, Regional Sales Consultant with Zagster.
While Zagster would be operating the bike share program, the City of Turlock would have full discretion on where stations could be located around town.
Before voting to approve the agreement with Zagster, members of the Council and public questioned the viability of a bike sharing program when Turlock is still struggling to become a bike-friendly community.
“Are we going to be taking away car lanes like in San Francisco?” said resident Ricardo Perez. “We already have limited parking in downtown.”
“We have enough of a problem with traffic safety and people blowing red lights… and if we have no indicator to drivers to expect bike riders, do we not have potentially exposure should there be an encounter of the worst kind, vehicle and bicyclist?” asked Council member Bill DeHart.
Development Services Director/City Engineer Mike Pitcock clarified that whether the bike lanes are there or not, bikes have a right to share the road. He also stated that as the City advances more road projects, per the Active Transportation Plan, bike lanes will be added, with one notable exception. The university requested to not include bike lanes when Monte Vista Avenue was resurfaced because they wanted to keep all the street parking, said Pitcock.
“We are a community that wants to be walkable, we want to be healthy. And every person who has signed a license to say that they understand the laws are telling you that they know a bicycle is just like a vehicle and they have a right of way and they have to share the roadway,” said Council member Amy Bublak.
Reassurances that Zagster would have to return to the Council to get bike station placement and user route information approved alleviated many of the concerns voiced during the presentation.
“I can absolutely support the idea… I think the wisdom of having a bike service in Turlock is a real plus. I think that the progression of review, recommendation, approval, implementation is something that I’d really like to know and will follow very closely,” said Council member Bill DeHart.