Gaston County Looks to Boost Bike Use
Bicycle use in our area has increased by leaps and bounds lately and a new program being promoted by Gaston Travel and Tourism hopes to expand two-wheel riding even more.
Dubbed “Zagster” the idea revolves around having racks of bikes strategically placed at various location across Gaston County and available for rental.
The bikes are top quality machines complete with parcel racks and multi-speed gearing.
Gaston Tourism director Michael Applegate is excited about Zagster.
“We learned about Zagster, the company that provides the system, through their success with other communities our size,” he said. “For the past ten years they’ve worked with many cities, counties, corporations and universities to supply an easy, convenient turnkey service to manage and operate the program and to support it with the necessary customer service, insurance, liability and regular maintenance needed to keep it running effectively.”
Basically the way the bike rental works is a customer first downloads the Zagster app, then logs in to it on their phone; If they are already in the app, tap “Ride” at the bottom of the screen; Type the bike number in the grey box; Tap the "START A RIDE" button; Get the unlock code on the next screen; Locate the keypad on the back of the bike. If there are keys numbers 1-9 and “ENT”, press “ENT”, followed by the unlock code, then ENT again; Make sure to press each button slowly and firmly; The box will flash the "MESSAGE" and "READY" lights once you've entered your code correctly; Pull the lockbox lid up and use the key inside to open the U-Lock. Once the bike is free from the station, use the key to close the U-Lock; Return the key to the lockbox and press the lid closed until you hear a click Place the U-Lock in the bike basket or through the holster on the rear rack.
Zagster fits right in with the idea of boosting the overall quality of life in Gaston County.
“The bike program aligns with community health, well-being, education and lifelong learning,” said Applegate. “To promote community health, we set a goal to develop, enhance and invest in outdoor recreational areas and a walkable, bikeable community. To accomplish that, we are partnering with County Parks & Rec, County Municipalities and Carolina Thread Trail to grow, improve and program existing facilities and preserved space. Doing so creates another amenity to offer visitors and residents and again supports our destination messaging that Gaston County offers an outdoors, active, natural, healthful and desirable place to live and to visit.”
Applegate also sees Zagster as a means to bring the county together for everyone's good.
“The current locations are beach heads in establishing more connectivity between these first stations and additional points of interest,” he said. “Carolina Thread Trail plans already call for Dallas Park connections to Gaston College, Gaston Technology Park, Rankin Lake and Highland Rail Trail. Downtown Lowell has funded completing sidewalks from there to Poston Park. Poston Park will eventually connect to Carolina Thread Trail. The Visitors Center, by way of the Belmont Rail Trail, will connect to Belmont Abbey College and Downtown Belmont sometime before years’ end. Given some of these imminent improvements, we’ve been strategic with these initial stations To continue to grow the program, we see several possibilities for stations in Belmont, Mount Holly, McAdenville, Lowell, Cramerton and Bessemer City to extend this system across the County and tie together more great outdoor recreation areas for residents and visitors to enjoy and explore.”