Bike-sharing program works to ease campus traffic congestion

Posted on Sep 21 2017 - 8:02am by Kiara Manning

In an attempt to promote biking on campus, the university has implemented a new bike-sharing program through Gotcha Bike. The program launched last week and has seen a successful start. It allows students, faculty and community members to rent bikes on an as-needed basis.

Gotcha Bikes sit at the Ole Miss Bike Shop, one of the six hubs on campus. Photo by Xinyi Song

The program boasts 50 bikes and six transportation hubs, with locations at the Student Union, Luckyday Residential College, Lamar Hall, Minor Hall, the Ole Miss Bike Shop, the Robert C. Khayat Law School and downtown Oxford near City Hall.

“It’s going to be a great alternative for getting around on campus,” Mike Harris, the university’s director of parking and transportation, said.

Harris said the bike-sharing program is something the university has been pushing to implement on campus for years.

“Biking on campus has been something that we have seen grow year after year, and we think this service will be popular,” Harris said.

This new bike-sharing allows participants to rent bikes, giving them two hours per day of free ride time. After two hours, the cost will increase to $4 per hour when using Gotcha Bike’s “university” plan.

The program is the latest addition to campus transportation. Ole Miss has also expanded its bus system in an effort to reduce parking struggles on campus.

“We are always looking to add additional options to our ever-expanding transportation demand management program,” Harris said. “We looked at other institutions and how they handle transportation, and this seemed like it would be a good fit for us.”

Bike-sharing programs have been common in cities for years, and Gotcha Bike has operations on several college campuses, including Auburn University and Florida State University.

Gotcha Bike also implements technology to make finding and renting a bike easier. By using the company’s app or website, participants can find and reserve bikes. Once a bike has been reserved, a four-digit PIN must be entered. Once a trip ends, the bike must be locked at one of the bike racks located at one of the six hubs.

Katie Sargeant, director of Gotcha Bike, said the new Ole Miss Bike Share program is designed to provide fun, convenient and healthy point-to-point transportation across campus.

“Gotcha Bikes are the nation’s smartest, thanks to our social bicycles and the proprietary GPS technology that allows users to locate and access the bikes through a smartphone or computer,” she said.

In addition to allowing users to easily locate bikes, the GPS system ensures the bikes remain within the system’s boundaries. Bikes that leave the area will incur additional fees.

Sargeant said she likes to think of Gotcha Bike as Uber for bicycles.

She also said the bikes are safer and more beneficial compared to driving because they provide environmental and health data.

“The bikes’ integrated technology and flashing lights are powered through built-in solar panels and a dynamic hub, giving riders real-time data, such as carbon emissions reduced, calories burned and money saved versus driving,” Sargeant said.

The bikes also include waterproof Kevlar seats and are fully customized with Ole Miss branding.