Charleston bicyclists have a lot of riding to do if they’re going to meet MUSC Chief Executive Officer Patrick Cawley’s goal of burning 1 million calories in the first year of the city’s new municipal bike share program, which launched earlier this month.
That’s about 2,700 collective calories per day. Or about 285 collective pounds of fat burned off each year.
The bike share program — dubbed Holy Spokes — lets people check out one of 250 bikes available from 27 locations across the Charleston peninsula for $8 per hour, $15 per month or $69 per year. The monthly and yearly subscriptions offer 30 minutes and an hour per day of ride time respectively and riders will need a smartphone to rent a bike.
There’s not much guesswork involved in calculating just how many calories the program helps riders burn. The bikes track that data, along with carbon dioxide emissions reduced and money saved.
That GPS system also makes the bicycles tough to steal, so make sure to return them on time.
A healthier population is certainly nothing to sneeze at — especially in a state where more than a third of the adult population is considered medically obese.
But the bike share program’s biggest contribution might be to the safety of people who already rely on bicycles to get around town — and those who’d like to start doing so.
Bike share systems offer a low-cost option for curious and casual cyclists to try pedaling around on the Charleston peninsula. And more people on bikes means greater visibility and attention paid to the city’s bicycle infrastructure, which is too often lacking.
Of course many of Charleston top bicycle infrastructure priorities are located off the peninsula — or on the way to it, in the case of the T. Allen Legare Bridge across the Ashley River.
But it can’t hurt to have more people on bikes calling more attention to needed improvements, as long as those bicyclists are careful to stay as safe as possible.
And GPS data collected from the bikes will help the city prioritize infrastructure improvements based on tangible need.
The Holy Spokes program isn’t the first or only option for those looking to rent a bicycle on the peninsula. Several local businesses also offer bikes for check-out.
The high-profile launch nevertheless coincides nicely with the recent roll out of the Berkeley-Charleston-Dorchester Council of Governments Walk + Bike BCD plan. That ambitious plan covers the tri-county region’s bike and pedestrian infrastructure needs over the next few decades.
It’s up to local governments to implement those plans.
And it’s hard to imagine a better way to encourage leaders to make bicycle infrastructure a priority than to hop on a bike and take to the streets. Bike share makes that a little bit easier.
So start pedaling.