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Bike share program launches at MUSC

J. Ryne Danielson | daniejer@musc.edu | May 31, 2017

Cyclist
Photos by J. Ryne Danielson
MUSC employees give Gotcha Bikes a try as the program launches on May 30.

More than 200 riders took to the streets as Holy Spokes, Charleston’s new bike share program, kicked off at MUSC’s Urban Farm. It was made possible by a partnership between Gotcha Bike, a locally-based company, the city of Charleston and MUSC Health. Supporters say the program will encourage exercise and alleviate traffic congestion on the peninsula. 

 
MUSC Executive Director of Community Health Innovation Anton Gunn is among the first to hop on a bike.  

MUSC Health CEO Patrick J. Cawley, M.D., said MUSC Health’s title partnership shows the organization’s commitment to building healthy communities, a key goal of the Imagine MUSC 2020 strategic plan. 

“MUSC is thrilled to be a title partner with Gotcha Bike and to introduce a sustainable and eco-friendly form of transportation to our campus and the surrounding community,” he said. “Transportation options are key to measuring quality of life in American communities. As the MUSC campus grows, biking becomes increasingly important. We want to help support its growth. Forward-thinking initiatives like this are absolutely necessary for our future.”

He explained MUSC has a duty to provide health leadership and support healthy lifestyles. “Promoting health is something we take seriously,” he said. “To that end, we’re going to challenge the community to set a wellness goal for Charleston bike share riders to burn 1 million calories within a year.”

Gotcha Group CEO Sean Flood also spoke at the ribbon cutting. “This is a very big day for the city of Charleston,” he said. “This is a chance for people to understand that biking is not just a toy, but a way to get from point A to point B in a safe, sustainable fashion. Bike sharing is the tipping point that’s going to allow that to happen. People can now easily access bikes for use during their lunch break, getting to and from work, or just exploring the beautiful sights the Charleston peninsula offers.”

The program includes 250 locally-assembled smart bikes that include real-time GPS tracking technology, which not only allows users to locate and reserve bikes through a smartphone or computer, but tracks calories burned, CO2 emission reductions, and cost-savings versus driving. The same built-in solar panel and dynamo hub that powers the GPS also powers flashing safety lights. Adjustable seats make the bikes one-size-fits-all.

Charleston Mayor John Tecklenburg thanked MUSC and Gotcha Bike for what he called a remarkable partnership. “Gotcha Bike is a local business,” he said. “These bikes are assembled on Huger Street right on the peninsula of Charleston.”

He stressed the importance of wearing a helmet and following the rules of the road and said he was excited to ride one of the first bikes to City Hall. “I love the goal of burning 1 million calories in a year. I’m going to burn a few of those today.”

According to Gotcha Bike, riders in their 22 existing bike share programs have burned almost 4 million calories, reduced CO2 emissions by 87,000 pounds, and saved 3,500 gallons of gas and more than $57,000 in maintenance costs since 2015.

One-way, hour-long rentals cost $8. Gotcha Bike also has monthly and annual payment options starting at $15 and $69, respectively. Users can make reservations through the Social Bicycles mobile app and use a PIN code to unlock the bike. All MUSC employees will receive a free annual membership with an hour of ride time per day and access to more than 25 bike corrals across the city. MUSC employees can visit https://charlestonbikeshare.com/musc-plan/ to sign up for their free membership.