Short-term bike rental has arrived in the town of Princeton with the addition of a new bikeshare station next to McCaffrey’s supermarket at the Princeton Shopping Center. The new station features Zagster bikeshare cycles, the same as those found at the bikeshare that first launched by Princeton University at the new Princeton Rail station in November 2014. The University subsequently expanded its Zagster bikeshare scheme to nine docks in March of this year. All the previous bikeshare stations were at University properties in town or at the Forrestal campus in Plainsboro. The new bikeshare dock is the first in Princeton at a non-University location. It is next to the bus stop, by McCaffrey’s at the Princeton Shopping Center at 301 North Harrison Street.
Use of the bikeshare cycles requires an
annual one-time $20 membership (available here) and is open to members of the public including people with no University affiliation. Using a smart device or text message, the user can get a code to unlock a bike, and use of the bike for the first 2 hours comes at no cost. (We did a full explainer at the time of launch – click here to read it). After the first 2 hours, the user pays by the hour, but the system is designed with short trips in mind. For example, somebody might take a bike from the University campus up to McCaffreys and lock it up there, ending the first rental session. After loading up with groceries, the user would get a new code to take a bike out again, starting a new 2-hour free rental period. The bikeshare therefore allows a secure, low-cost, environmentally-friendly way of getting around town.
Reports from the University are that the bikeshare system has surpassed all expectations and is proving very popular with students. The town of Princeton was awarded a grant of $196,000 from DVRPC last year to expand bikeshare in the town. It is not clear if this newest station at the Princeton Shopping Center was placed by the town, or at the request of the University (so that students might be able to easily ride up to McCaffrey’s to get food?) When the town gets round to using its bikeshare grant, we can expect more bikeshare stations to pop up around the municipality, making this newest station even more useful for local residents.
Note: Long-term residents will recall that a previous bikeshare scheme launched in town in 1998. The ‘Freewheels’ program, developed by Greater Mercer TMA with the assistance of Princeton University and Kopp’s Cycle Store, placed bikes free for use around the town. The bikes eventually all disappeared or were broken. The Gagster bikeshare program has technology that will hopefully make it more long-lived, because users must supply a credit card before taking a bike out and are then responsible for the bicycle until they lock it up again.
(Updated 10.26.16 to correct details about renting Zagster bikes in Princeton)