Ashland’s previous single bike-share station that was tucked in a dark corner of town has been revamped and expanded to five stations.

Currently there are stations at the Ashland Plaza, the YMCA and on the corner of Siskiyou Boulevard and Glendale Avenue. Two additional stations will be built by the end of September, one near the dorms of Southern Oregon University and another near Safeway.

There is also one bike-share station in Medford at the Front Street transit station.

Andrea Napoli, senior transportation planner at the Rogue Valley Council of Governments, led the bike-share project. She said the organization is looking for funding for more stations, locations and research to help make the Rogue Valley even more bike accessible.

To rent a bike, users can either download the Zagster app on a smart phone or go online to http://bike.zagster.com/jacksoncounty.

The app has all the information available and allows the renter to pay by credit card, while the website also allows those without smartphones to make payments. If using the website, after paying online the user is asked to provide the number on the information board at the bike station and then receives the code needed to get the bike.

Bikes can be rented for $3 an hour, but memberships could be cheaper for multiple uses. An annual membership is $25; for SOU and Rogue Community College students, it’s only $15.

Monthly memberships cost $10. For local recipients of SNAP, TANF, Medicaid and those enrolled in the JOBS program, an annual membership is free.

For a member, the first two hours of each rental are free and every additional hour costs $2.

A rider simply returns the bike to an open slot in any station around town to end the rental. Unlike most bike-share programs, these bikes come with locks, so renters can make multiple stops before returning the bike.

If the bike is not returned within 24 hours, the renter will be charged a $30 fee, which is intended to keep the bikes available for a wider number of people in the community. Residents with a free membership may keep a bike for up to 10 hours a day; each additional hour will cost $2.

Originally the bike share program had one station in Ashland and five others in the Rogue Valley, but after funding from United Way ended, the Council of Governments took over the project.

“The Ashland station, even though it was 20 percent of all the stations was getting over 50 percent of the total usage,” Napoli said.

The funding for the new bike-share program was mostly directed to Ashland as a pilot project. Funding will last three years.

Napoli said the program will be an excellent resource for SOU students as they could potentially use the bike share instead of bringing their cars to campus. And it’s a cheap way for new students to learn their way around town.

“I also think that it’s great for the tourists in the area to ride around town,” Napoli said. “You could essentially come to Ashland, park your car and use the bikeshare for your time here.”

— Email Ashland freelance writer Caitlin Fowlkes at Caitlin.fowlkes@gmail.com.