Vinton Mayor Brad Grose checks out a Zagster bike/G Marrano photo WFIR

The coronavirus impact has led to the end of the Zagster Bike Share service, which has been suspended since late March due to safety concerns. RIDE Solutions had sponsored the bikeshare service, which often meant riders pedaling along greenways and local streets were on bikes they could rent via a phone app. Holmes says he hopes Zagster or a similar program will return to the area in the future. Jeremy Holmes, the director of RIDE solutions says the service is ending because of the pandemic, not because of low ridership.

(news release) Roanoke, VA., May 28th, 2020 – In an email to its community partners yesterday, Zagster announced that it would end bikeshare service in Roanoke because of financial strain caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The effects of COVID-19 on our communities has been tragic,” the statement read.  “Sadly, the pandemic has also impacted Zagster’s business, and it is with heavy hearts that we must inform you that Zagster will no longer be providing bike share services in your community. This was a difficult decision but a necessary one, for which we are truly sorry.”

The removal of bicycles and stations will begin immediately, with all equipment to be removed by June 12th.  Bikeshare service has been suspended since March 26th out of concern for the health and safety of users and service technicians at the start of the COVID-19 lockdown.

Says RIDE Solutions Director Jeremy Holmes, “With the deleterious economic impact of COVID-19 both locally and nationally, we are saddened but not surprised at the news that Zagster’s business has also suffered and will result in the end, for the time being, of bikeshare in Roanoke.  However, we know that bikeshare has been a success in the Roanoke Valley, and we also know that the micromobility market will adapt to the post-pandemic economic situation.  We’re confident that new mobility solutions will arrive that will allow us to revisit bikeshare – or perhaps something more exciting! – in the next few years.”

Zagster bikeshare started in Roanoke in May of 2017 with most of the funding coming from private sponsorships.  The system, which launched with 50 bikes and 10 stations, quickly expanded to almost double that number, including additional stations in Salem and Vinton. “With the help of our sponsors and community partners,” says Holmes, “we funded and launched a bikeshare program in record time, in a market that only a few years previous seemed an unlikely candidate for a successful program, and created a valued transportation and recreation service for our citizens.  That is a testament to the strength and creativity of Roanoke’s business and civic community, and I know that we will be able to tap into that again sooner rather than later for new and better amenities.”