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City looking for another form of shared mobility

December 2, 2018

The end of Zagster’s bike-share run in Fort Wayne isn’t the end of the city’s efforts to find a shared mobility platform that works, especially as other cities expand their programs to include other forms of transportation. 

“The experiment with Zagster helped us show there is a demand in Fort Wayne,” city spokeswoman Mary Tyndall said. “We just need to find the right product, the right fit for Fort Wayne.”

A group of city staff and residents is exploring the need for some kind of shared mobility, said Dan Baisden, a city urban planner.

Some of those discussions have focused on what kinds of transportation will work for the city, Baisden said. Other cities, including Indianapolis and Bloomington, have begun to incorporate electric scooters as part of their shared mobility programs. The city is researching, but aware of the possibility of rentable scooters. 

“When or if they come into the community, we want to be sure they’re being used properly and really fit into our community,” Tyndall said. 

Zagster pulled out of the city because it was transitioning to a dockless platform to replace the physical stations that dotted downtown Fort Wayne. At that time, city officials said Zagster didn’t have the manpower or resources available to service the area. 

A dockless bike-share platform is especially intriguing, Baisden said. 

“Often, dockless systems come at low or no cost to the city,” he said. “That means more bikes on the street, more flexibility in where they’re used. They’re also rebalanced on a regular basis, so if there is higher demand in one place, the bikes can be moved to those areas.”

Shareable bikes and scooters can have a positive impact on a city’s roadways, Baisden said.

Other cities, he said, have seen reduced congestion in certain areas or during peak times as people have chosen to use a bike-share or electric scooter instead of driving for short trips.

Increased interest could also mean expansion of existing bicycle infrastructure, such as bike lanes. 

City officials and residents will continue to meet throughout the winter and early spring, Baisden said. He’s hopeful ideas and recommendations could come by early summer. 

Reader questions 

Q: “Late summer, there were road crews putting what looked like white plastic strips down on Lima Road. Out of curiosity, what was the purpose for this?” : Jerri M.

A: What you saw is part of a process called crack-sealing. Crews apply a sealant to cracks in the roadway to extend the life of the pavement, INDOT spokeswoman Nichole Hacha-Thomas said. Anywhere you see a series of black squiggly lines on the roadway is where a crew has crack-sealed the pavement. 

The white strips are plain old bath tissue.

Crews use it to keep drivers from getting sealant on their tires, which could then get tracked all over the roadway. 

“The tissue is inexpensive, bio-degradable and breaks down after a few days,” Hacha-Thomas said. “Crack-sealing is one of the most cost-effective pavement methods used at INDOT.” 

Q: I recently read that India was adding plastic to asphalt to make stronger, long-lasting roads. Is that something Indiana is looking at?” : Jerri M. 

A: There are many different materials being added to concrete and asphalt to help increase performance and longevity, INDOT spokeswoman Nichole Hacha-Thomas said. 

“We are not aware of anything being widely used here in Indiana, but INDOT : in conjunction with researchers from Purdue University : are always looking into potential options to improve our network of state and federal roads,” she said. 

dgong@jg.net

Road Sage is a monthly column. Dave Gong, The Journal Gazette’s local government reporter, provides updates on public works projects in the Fort Wayne area and answers selected questions from readers. Submit a question by emailing roadsage@jg.net or tweeting @JGRoadSage.

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