East Carolina University has been without a bike share program for almost a year, and according to campus officials, it will remain that way until a suitable company is found.
Lime Bike was introduced to ECU’s campus in March 2018, and subsequently left in March 2019. Since its departure, the campus has been without a rideshare company for students and faculty alike. From a sustainability perspective, the absence of a bike company on campus is a big negative.
ECU Sustainability manager Chad Carwein said that the university had been searching for a replacement for Lime since their departure, with no avail.
“In May, we scheduled interviews with other companies including Veo Ride and Gotcha Bike. Based off of the packages they offered us, we selected Gotcha… then we began hearing about internal issues with the company and layoffs,” said Carwein.
Gotcha Bike put the contract ECU had signed with them on hold due to these internal issues. After multiple delays, ECU ultimately voided the contract with Gotcha Bike and began looking for other solutions. One of these included Veo Ride, who offered to bring twenty bikes and a few hundred electric scooters, according to Carwein.
ECU administration has concerns with electric scooters on campus including safety, liability and ensuring scooters are not discarded around campus. Due to this, the search for a micro mobility company on campus is ongoing.
Carwein recommends students to continue to try to stay sustainable with their transportation while the search continues.
“Use the other forms of transportation. Look for used bikes, buy something cheap and try it out. If you commute, look into options for carpooling with other commuters,” said Carwein.
ECU Transportation manager Joshua Rossnagel has remained involved in the search for a new bike share program at ECU since Lime’s departure.
Rossnagel said that student input is needed on this matter.
“What’s happening in the current market is that there are no companies providing the solutions ECU needs. Companies like Lime are now going out of business and pulling their bikes from multiple markets and college campuses. Until there is a change in the current climate, nothing will change,” Rossnagel said.
Rossnagel said he sees a need for micro mobility on campus for both staff and students. Currently most students are either riding the buses or driving to campus and paying for a parking deck or a yearly pass, which is a negative in terms of sustainability.
Junior communications major Madi Pray says she wouldn’t mind potentially paying more in tuition to provide a program like Lime or Gotcha Bike on campus.
“The only two ways you can get to class right now is a bus or driving. You’re paying for those either way. I would rather pay more in tuition for a bike sharing program because it’s so convenient,” said Pray.
ECU is continuing to look for solutions to micro-mobility on campus. Until then, Rossnagel said he is open to hearing any and all student input on the matter.
“We’re always wanting to hear student opinions. We don’t magically know what your minds have. If anyone has ideas or hears anything, pitch it to us,” Rossnagel said.