When Charleston's first citywide bike share program is rolled out this spring, it will be a symbol of health and wellness — and not just because riding a bike is good exercise.
Gotcha Bike, the operator of the system, announced recently that its title sponsor for the Charleston fleet will be the Medical University of South Carolina.
MUSC, which is also one of the city's largest employers, has a few projects in the works to make its campus more pedestrian and bike-friendly. One of its largest is the future greenway to be developed along Doughty Street in the hospital district in partnership with neighboring hospitals.
Patrick J. Cawley, chief executive officer of MUSC Health and vice president for Health Affairs, said the bike share program fits in with its recent initiatives.
"Building healthy communities is a pillar of our organization’s strategic plan,” he said. “Developing a partnership with Gotcha Bike is a natural step toward this important community health goal.”
City Council recently approved a contract with Gotcha Bike, which establishes terms for the program but does not include any cost to the city. The company is responsible for 100 percent of its funding, operations, maintenance and management. The deal also established a process for locating bike corrals on public property.
“Gotcha Bike is designed to be durable and maintenance-free, providing a clean, reliable and affordable transportation alternative for residents, workers, visitors and students on the peninsula," said Sean Flood, CEO of parent company The Gotcha Group.
The initial roll-out will include 250 bikes available at 15-20 bike stations throughout the city, including three on the MUSC campus. Additional locations will be announced in the coming weeks.
Charleston's new bike share program will let riders pay to use a bike on either an hourly basis or by buying a long-term pass. Rates haven't been announced. It's comparable to programs in other large cities and very different from an informal, free bike share program that a Charleston businessman introduced about 20 years ago. Those bikes, all of which were painted yellow and to be used on an honor system, quickly disappeared from the city's streets.