Riding on two wheels across campus just got a lot easier.
Parking and Transportation Services has placed 24 e-bikes at five Bikeshare stations around campus. The power-assisted e-bikes are just like regular bikes, but they provide an added boost with the push of a button.
“It’s electric assist. That means you still have to pedal,” said Kat Moreland, associate director of transit operations. The bikes require less exertion than non-powered bikes, especially going uphill.
“Honestly, they’re the coolest way to navigate campus!” she said.
The bicycles are provided by BCycle and maintained by Reedy Rides, which also serves the city of Greenville. Funding for the e-bikes and two additional bicycle stations with 28 docks (where each bike is located) came from Graduate Student Government and the IT Student Advisory Board. ITSAB has just approved funding for 25 more bikes and an additional two stations with 37 new docks. The Graduate Student Government sustainability committee is seeking input from students about where those bikes should be available.
Travis Roberts, Graduate Student Government president pro-tempore, said purchasing the e-bikes is part of the committee’s Active Transportation Initiative.
“The goal is to provide an on-campus infrastructure network for active last-mile transportation that promotes a useful and accessible method of getting around campus,” he said. “Parking Services is working with us to expand the Bikeshare program, and Facilities is helping us improve the biking infrastructure needed to get between stations.”
Bikeshare stations are now located between the Rhodes Annex and Watt Family Innovation Center, at Core Campus next to Holmes Hall, between the Hendrix Student Center and Edwards Hall, and at Fike Recreation Center and Sikes Hall. This month, two more stations will be added at Douthit Hub and near the R1 and R2 parking lots near the Fire Station.
Moreland said that the white e-bikes would eventually replace the orange non-electric bikes in the Bikeshare program.
How to Use E-bike
To use an e-bike, join the Bikeshare program for just $15 for the calendar year. Sign up here. The first two hours of each ride are free. After that, it costs $1 an hour.
Download the BCycle app on your iPhone or Android to find and unlock a bicycle. Push the power button to check the battery life (if it’s low, choose another bike). Moreland said that Reedy Rides is currently replacing depleted batteries with fully charged batteries every other day with plans to increase the frequency to every day soon.
The e-bikes have three gears for riders looking for more pedal resistance and speed. Moreland recommends that new or rusty riders stick to gears 1 and 2.
She encourages even those who haven’t been on a bicycle in years to try the e-bikes.
“With electric assist, it makes biking fun again,” she said. “It’s like the adage: You never really forget how to ride; you just need a little confidence.”
“Riding one of the e-bikes is like cheating: You can ride up to Fort Hill Street without breaking a sweat!” Roberts said.
Prizes for Using E-bikes
During April, there’s an added incentive to ride e-bikes, with prizes available from Parking and Transportation Services’ Try Alternative Transportation contests.
There are three contest categories: The person who rides the most miles on Bikeshare bikes will receive AirPods, the one who checks out the most bikes can win a JBL clip-on speaker and the first 100 people riding at least one mile will receive $5 in Paw Points.