Zagster is pulling its Pace dockless bike-share service from the streets of Bloomington on May 15 after facing fierce competition from scooter-share companies. The partnership between Zagster, the city and Indiana University lasted less than a year. (Kurt Christian / Herald-Times)
Zagster is pulling its Pace dockless bike-share service from the streets of Bloomington on May 15 after facing fierce competition from scooter-share companies. The partnership between Zagster, the city and Indiana University lasted less than a year. (Kurt Christian / Herald-Times)
Scooter-share companies have seduced so many of the city’s bike-share riders that Zagster plans to pull its Pace bikes out of Bloomington in mid-May.

Indiana University and the city of Bloomington joined forces in Oct. 2017 to bring a dockless bike-share provider to Bloomington. Their pitch for a program without startup costs drew nine interested companies, and in February 2018, they chose Massachusetts-based Zagster’s line of Pace bikes. The bike-share officially launched last June with 150 units and a promise to grow. Anna Dragovich, IU’s transportation demand management coordinator and bicycle manager, said residents initially took as many as 700 trips per week using the Pace bike-share.

“Our data shows that it was incredibly successful. Anecdotally, I saw people that hadn’t been on a bicycle since childhood got on a bike and went down the B-Line. There’s this sort of untapped freedom that a bike-share program can really provide the community,” Dragovich said. “As painful as it is for me to admit it, the data does drop off with the arrival of the scooters.”

Bird Rides and Lime launched their electric scooter-shares in September and riders flocked to the self-propelled alternative. Karl Alexander, senior market manager for Zagster, said it was ultimately a financial decision to pull out of Bloomington. He said scooter-share companies pulled venture capital funding away from bike-shares, and the 10-20% Pace earns in rider revenue isn’t enough to cover the cost of its Bloomington operations.

“We understand the precedent of the bicycle and what it means in Bloomington,” Alexander said. “We still see the value in bicycles as a form of transit, but sometimes, the economics of it gets in the way a bit.”

Alexander said Zagster plans to collect its bikes from the Bloomington market so they can be used in other cities where there are local subsidies available to support those operations.

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