Having a bike share program at UNC Charlotte has been in the works for YEARS. The wait is finally over; Charlotte Wheels is live! Ten rack corrals were installed and 50 Gotcha Bikes arrived last week. Students discovered them and began riding almost immediately.
About the bikes
The first thing riders notice is the quality of the bicycles. They are sturdy without being too heavy, beautifully balanced, and have both coaster and hand brakes. Instead of a chain, the bikes are belt driven and have Shirmano three-speed internal gears for taking on campus hills with surprising ease. A basket with bungee cords secures books and packages and safety lights illuminate both front and rear. And no one who was ever a kid can resist the thumb-ringable bell.
How it works
Accessing Charlotte Wheels is easy. Bikes can be reserved directly from the computer on the back of the bike or through the Social Bicycles app.
Anyone can create an account to use the program. Two pricing plans* are available:
- Point-to-point, which allows for 60 minutes ride time per day with no membership fee, and
- Lifestyle, a $30/year membership that gives two hours of ride time per day.
Here's an example of point-to-point use. A student, we'll call him Norm, reserves a bike that's parked at the corral between Smith and Prospector via app or bike keypad. He enters his PIN to unlock the bike. Norm's intent is to ride up to CRI for a class that starts in an hour. As he glides down Craver Road, he decides there's time for a coffee at the Student Union Starbucks. Norm activates the "hold" feature on the bike to stop the clock for up to 30 minutes and locks up the bike. One latte and a little while later, he has ended his ride and locked the bike at the Grigg/EPIC corral. His time with the bike was 55 minutes. The cost to Norm was $0.
Convenient, eco-friendly and fun
Bike share will be a boon to resident students, commuters, staff, and visitors alike. PaTs Transportation Manager, Helena Connors, is excited to see the program finally in motion. "Not only will Charlotte Wheels offer a new mode of transportation to get around campus, it will open up new places to explore — like the Greenway."
Jerry Mann, avid cyclist and former director of the Popp Martin Student Union, interrupted his retirement to help PaTS launch the program. "Students, faculty and staff now have the freedom to pick up a bike at a convenient location," he said, "and immediately travel around campus at a low cost, while also burning calories and utilizing non-fossil fuel transportation."
Several groups and departments helped bring the dream of bike sharing to UNC Charlotte. They include PaTS and Business Services, Facilities Management Planning and Grounds units and the Office of Sustainability. Special thanks go to students from the Charlotte Green Initiative, who provided grant funds and more importantly, the inspiration and impetus to bring Charlotte Wheels to campus.
*See website for details and restrictions
Map of Charlotte Wheels bike corral locations here
Important safety note: Helmet use is strongly advised. For those who do not own a helmet, Bikeline of Charlotte, 8528 University City Blvd., (in shopping center across from main entrance of campus) offers quality helmets and will provide proper fitting.
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