Public bike sharing is currently a reality in Fort Worth and is on the verge of happening at Fair Park, but right now it's a pie-in-the-sky idea for Dallas at large. That's why it was a surprise to see a bike sharing stand pop up outside of the 2100 Ross building in downtown Dallas recently.
However, even though the sign next to the bikes entices with the line, "Need a bike? Borrow ours!," the bikes are only available to the employees of Lockton Companies, a global insurance brokerage firm that prides itself on having happy employees. In fact, Lockton made the Dallas Business Journal's list of Best Places to Work in North Texas in 2012 and 2013.
The bikes come courtesy of Zagster, a private bike sharing company making its first foray in Dallas with Lockton Companies.
The bikes come courtesy of Zagster, a private bike sharing company making its first foray in Dallas with Lockton. The company has hundreds of bikes deployed in more than 20 states and works with colleges, corporate campuses, hotels and other businesses. In addition to the bikes, the model includes professional maintenance, insurance and a proprietary website that tracks bike availability.
For now, the shiny Lockton bikes are just a big tease for the Dallas Arts District. But according to Zagster's Bradley Ericson, private bike sharing could soon be spreading in Dallas.
"We are talking to some other interested tenants in the building where Lockton is at about a possible multi-employer bike sharing program," says Ericson. "We’re exploring to see how the Lockton program can grow, but also benefit some other partners and companies in the area."
If Lockton's program, which is initially set for two years, proves popular, Ericson anticipates the idea will spread like wildfire.
"Ever since we launched the program with Quicken Loans in Detroit, we began working with a bunch of different partners in downtown Detroit — other employers, other property owners and other sponsors," Ericson says. "I’d envision a pretty similar growth in Dallas. I think Dallas and Detroit are similar in that both cities don't have plans to bring in a public bike sharing program, and they both also have a lot of quality large companies that have headquarters and large offices in the city."
According to Ericson, Lockton started the program not only to give employees a free and easy way to get around downtown, but also to complement pre-existing company initiatives that incentivize healthy activities.
If seeing the Zagster bikes zipping around downtown is too much for some bike lovers to take, there's always the possibility that Lockton or other future Dallas clients might open up their bikes to non-employees on a fee basis. A small percentage of Zagster clients in other cities are doing just that, and the company has noticed that the practice is starting to increase significantly.
Until that trend trickles down to Dallas, employees of Lockton can lord their bike sharing privileges over downtown while the rest of us watch on with barely concealed envy.