The 15th bike rental station set up by Ride Solutions – using the Zagster app to facilitate the rental process – is also the first outside of Roanoke City. It’s at the Farmers Market in Vinton, about two miles from downtown Roanoke and a stone’s throw from the first leg of the Glade Creek Greenway, which connects to the Tinker and then to the Roanoke River Greenway as well.
In one year the Bike Share program has more than doubled membership expectations; two more sites should debut within the next few weeks and Jeremy Holmes with Ride Solutions says the City of Salem is considering several locations as well. “It’s important in that it connects all of our urban centers now,” said Holmes of the Vinton bike rack. “There’s a lot of cool stuff happening here [in Vinton].”
Ride a bike from your downtown Roanoke apartment suggests Holmes – the Ride Solutions director – and check out Vinton, perhaps the Twin Creeks Brewery or Star City Playhouse within sight of the Bike Share location at the Farmer’s Market.
“So far everywhere that we have wanted to go we have found willing partners,” said Holmes. Most of those using the short term bike rentals are locals who use the Zagster app to take a bike out for shopping; to do things like check out a brewpub or for a weekend jaunt on the greenway system added Holmes. “It’s really being used by the folks here in the valley.”
Holmes said with the effort Roanoke has put into becoming an outdoor destination he was confident the Portland (OR)-based Zagster program would work here, but “I’m surprised it has gone as well as it has. We reached our annual membership goal in three months. We’re thrilled.”
Twin Creeks Brewing Company owner Andy Bishop likes having the rental location just outside his back door. “We’re just excited to be part of the network. A lot of the other breweries in town have bike stations – now we have one. We’re two miles from downtown [Roanoke]. That’s a great ride from place to place. On a pretty day you can hit three or four breweries on a bike.” (Publisher’s note: you liable to hit something else on your bike after stopping off at three or four breweries . . .)
Vinton Mayor Brad Grose, who gamely tried out a bike at the ribbon cutting, liked how the program connects his town to the city next store. In addition to additional transportation and recreation opportunities, Grose said “it adds to the cool factor here in Vinton. It’s easily accessible to folks that are here. I think it says something that Vinton was the first [Bike Share rack] outside of the city. It’s a good close connection and I think it indicates that we’re a progressive town.”