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On the road with Zagster 

A couple of weeks ago, bike racks appeared on what seemed to be every corner in downtown Rochester, with Zagster's signature white bikes fixed with a basket in the front and rack in the back. And most important, they were being used.

In the first day, says Zagster Bike Share Rebalancer Allen McAllister, somewhere between 250 and 300 rides had gone out.

For $1 per half hour and the Zapster smartphone app, you can take any of the bikes from a Zagster rack to ride wherever your heart desires (as long as it's in Rochester city limits). And you can return bikes at any Zagster station or any city-owned bike rack.

When I took a Zagster out for a spin, from the CITY offices on North Goodman to Abundance Food Co-op in the South Wedge, I found a lot of plusses. Renting, locking, and unlocking the bike was easy. The seat adjustment did just fine accommodating my 6'3 height. (Taller people might find the ride a little less comfortable.)

Most apparent, though, is that Rochester is in desperate need of better bicycling infrastructure. The majority of the streets downtown have no bike lanes, making riding dangerous. Alexander Street was a bumpy and narrow ride, and most of East End took some skillful maneuvering.

Though Zagster is providing a service for people who don't have a bike, its audience is still limited by one major factor: a smartphone. Bluetooth capabilities are required in order to unlock and lock the bikes, making a smartphone a necessity. And the bikes aren't available everywhere. The heaviest concentration is downtown, with a few also available in some selected neighborhoods near downtown. Zagster has a map and other information online at www.zagster.com/ROC.

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