Today, plans were revealed for a bike-sharing system coming to downtown Greenville in Spring 2013. Created through a partnership between Upstate Forever and the Greenville Hospital System (GHS) with additional funding support from the Greenville Transit Authority and Greenville County Recreation District, Greenville B-Cycle will provide residents with an inexpensive alternative to driving cars when taking shorter trips around town. And with stations planned at the Greenlink Bus Transfer Station and Sterling Community Center, organizers are hoping the system will also provide improved accessibility to those without reliable personal vehicles.
At a press conference in downtown Greenville, organizers announced that leading bike-sharing system developer B-Cycle has been selected to provide the Greenville B-Cycle equipment and software. Greenville’s system will be the 17th in B-Cycle’s portfolio, which includes neighboring communities of Spartanburg, S.C., and Charlotte, N.C. Upstate Forever will operate Greenville B-Cycle and contract with one or more local businesses to assist with operations and maintenance of the system.
“With its thriving downtown business community, shopping, restaurants and entertainment, Greenville is an ideal community to bring in a system like Greenville B-Cycle,” said Brad Wyche, executive director of Upstate Forever. “We hope the residents and visitors of Greenville will see this as a viable transportation alternative that not only reduces environmental pollution, but encourages physical activity and provides a convenient way to access all that downtown and the surrounding areas have to offer.”
To walk from the north end of Main Street to the West End could take 20 minutes by foot, but it’s a short enough distance not to necessitate the pollution, traffic and parking hassles of driving. With Greenville B-Cycle, users can pick up a bike at a station located near the Hyatt Regency on North Main and return it to a station at Fluor Field, cutting the same trip down to seven minutes or less. The first 60 minutes of each ride are free to Greenville B-Cycle members, making it a great option for those making short trips through town. Daily, weekly and annual membership plans will be available ranging from $5 to $60.
“Greenville Hospital System is proud to support this worthwhile program, which will encourage the health and well-being of this community and make Greenville a better place to live, work and play,” said Mike Riordan, GHS president and CEO. “As an official Bicycle Friendly City with a number of certified Bicycle Friendly Businesses, a bike-sharing system was a natural fit for Greenville. Another reason we like the program is that it encourages greater physical activity which can have a positive impact on better personal health.”
Initially, Greenville B-Cycle will offer 28 adult-sized bicycles and six stations for users to pick up or return, with expansion throughout Greenville planned over the next few years. Proposed station locations for the first phase of the project include the Hyatt Regency, the Greenlink Transfer station on McBee Avenue, Greenville City Hall, the Greenville Drive stadium, the Sterling Community Center and County Square.
Each bicycle will come equipped with self-charging GPS technology that provides actual rider data including speed and route ridden, allowing users to see their statistics on the B-Cycle website. Greenville B-Cycle operators will also be able to use the GPS technology to monitor the whereabouts of each bicycle to reallocate as needed and discourage theft. Bikes also include baskets to store belongings during rides, as well as front and rear LED lights for safety. Helmets are not provided but are strongly encouraged. Organizers are currently pursuing grants and sponsorships to one day provide helmets to riders.
Greenville B-Cycle is developing as a true community project . In addition to the generous funding support from GHS and other partners, in-kind services are being provided by Leadership Greenville, LiveWell Greenville and Erwin Penland. Opportunities to sponsor bike stations and bike-share bicycles also exist, which will not only allow businesses to invest in their community and this green transportation alternative, but will also allow them recognition on the bike-share stations and bicycles that will be highly visible downtown.