BRADLEY — The community biking program known as Bike 609 will not be in operation this summer as the Kankakee County Convention & Visitors Bureau was informed Wednesday by the company operating the program they will no longer be providing the service.
In addition, the company would not be returning money — $90,000 — already paid for the 2020 biking season.
Zagster, the Cambridge, Mass., company which had operated the program here since July 2018, informed the CVB by email that the effects of COVID-19 has impacted the company to such an extent that they would not be able to honor the commitment to Bike 609.
Published reports note Zagster has also pulled out of other communities.
The company said it is with “heavy hearts” that it was informing the CVB it would not be providing bike-share services to Kankakee County.
“This is a difficult decision but a necessary one, for which we are truly sorry,” the statement read. “... Unfortunately, due to the impacts of COVID-19 on our business, we will not be able to provide any refunds.”
The email statement, which was provided to the Journal, further stated that as part of Zagster’s closing plans, it would begin collecting its 50, 26-inch bikes and 11 bike stations as soon as today.
Riders, the company statement noted, would receive an email with details about the closure on Friday.
“We can’t thank you enough for your partnership,” the statement concluded. “You have been at the forefront of micro-mobility, advocating for sustainable transport options well before it was commonplace across the country. We hope you will continue this great work post-Zagster as you work toward your goals of improving our communities through mobility.”
The participating municipalities and organizations which have been a part of Bike 609 had paid $9,000 for each biking station. In all, there were 11 bike stations and 50 bikes.
Staci Wilken, CVB director, said Wednesday evening the bikes, which have been in storage due to the program not being in operation as a result of the coronavirus, said the bikes will not be returned until Zagster returns money paid to them by this community.
Each community and organization — Kankakee, Bradley, Bourbonnais, Manteno, Kankakee Development Corporation, Bourbonnais Township Park District, Riverside Healthcare, AMITA Health St. Mary’s Hospital, Kankakee Community College and the CVB — each paid $9,000 per bike station annually. Bradley was the only organization with two bike stations.
At the conclusion of this biking season, Bradley previously announced it was ending its participation with the program.
The region was in the second year of a two-year contact with Zagster and had been looking to extend the contract into 2021.
Wilken, in a letter to the participating communities and organizations, said the CVB attorney will be sending a request to Zagster demanding the return of the $90,000 due to the loss of the 2020 riding season.
The bike program was to have started April 1, but the pandemic brought a halt to its start.