The surprise was unveiled at the Valpo Velocity Opening Ceremony on Wednesday: Urschel Laboratories Inc. is the secret title sponsor for the new bike share program. Yet, to offer their support for the innovative, fun program, Rick Urschel said that it was no surprise at all the company wanted to be part of another great initiative in Northwest Indiana.
“On behalf of the company, it is always exciting for us to help, and it is really neat to be involved in these projects,” Rick Urschel, President and CEO of the company said.
Urschel, along with members of local Porter County schools, Valparaiso University, the Valpo Parks Department, Valparaiso Redevelopment Commission and members within the community met at the William E. Urschel Pavilion for the opening of the Valpo Velocity bike sharing program.
“The pavilion was one of those projects, and the bike program is another way to get the community involved,” he said.
The Valpo Velocity program is a collaborated effort among students, teachers and members of the city departments.
“The germination started with the RDC, and we were brought in to manage it long-term,” Valpo Parks Executive Director John Seibert said. “We are partnering with RDC. Then, in 2018, we will be managing the program for the city.”
But even before the RDC, the idea came to the city from a class at Valparaiso High School, taught by engineering instructor Tarik El-Naggar.
“Once the idea was presented, the members of the RDC knew it was something to pursue further,” Lauren Orchard, RDC Economic Development Coordinator said.
Then, two students, Zak Smith of Chesterton High School and Zac Beatty of Boone Grove High School, were chosen to design the Valpo Velocity logo, which marks every bike and location.
“It was pretty neat to be chosen,” Beatty said. “I think it will be very cool once people start using it and see others using them.”
“Students of VU are super excited for the bike share program,” said Mark Heckler, President of Valparaiso University. “’When are the bikes coming? When are the bikes coming?’” he said, mimicking his impatient students. “We have had a long history of collaborating with the city and the community. And, of all the things we’ve done, the students are the most excited about this.”
The program allows students to zip downtown for lunch and head back to campus. It gives another form of transportation to someone who doesn’t own a car, or let’s an out-of-town visitor enjoy the city and pathway system in a more fun and scenic route.
The bikes were provided by a Boston-based company called Zagster, which will run the Valpo Velocity program app, which is how the community will manage renting the bikes and the payments. A yearly membership fee costs $30, and the rider will get one hour free each day on the bike. For every hour plus, it will be $2 to rent that bike. For those who do not wish to buy the membership, it is $2 per every hour the bike is in use.
“We love this program because it can go to any type of community member,” Orchard said. “Everybody can use it.”
The ceremony concluded with an official first ride by all involved in the project. Led by a Valparaiso Police escort, the riders circled the Urschel Pavilion, their smiling faces beaming from underneath the mandatory helmet.
For more information on the Valpo Velocity Bike Share Program hosted by Zagster, click here.