The bike sharing company, Gotcha, is expected to bring their e-bikes to East Carolina University’s campus over the course of summer, as Lime bikes leave campus.
Joshua Rossnagel, ECU Parking and Transportation external operations manager, said Lime’s contract with ECU ended on May 3 and bikes then began to slowly be removed from campus.
Rossnagel said the number of bikes coming to campus hasn’t been settled on. However, the amount will be comparable to the number of Lime bikes which previously were placed on campus. He said the number of bikes is projected to be around 225 to 250.
After electric bikes were introduced through Lime, the use of traditional, pedal bikes went to almost zero rides per day in their partnership, so ECU decided to bring only e-bikes to campus in their newfound partnership with Gotcha, Rossnagel said.
“So we really found its what our students, faculty and staff want is the e-bike, so that's what we’re gonna bring,” Rossnagel said.
Rossnagel said bikes can’t be left in areas where they will be obstructing a walkway and ECU plans to use geofencing to control where bikes are left.
According to Rossnagel, the Gotcha app will allow students to view acceptable areas to leave bikes. App users will receive a notification to alert them they are not able to lock their bikes if they leave their bike in an unacceptable area.
Rossnagel said there will be dozens of geofenced locations on ECU’s campus. Locations will be selected based on the most popular places students would begin and end their rides based on concluding results from “the year of Lime.”
“We’re hoping that will really help with keeping the campus uncluttered and helping improve the campuses image while still giving people plenty of places to leave the bikes,” Rossnagel said.
Rossnagel said Gotcha bikes were chosen because they are dockless. Additionally, the company was chosen was because Gotcha offers a shuttle service, Gotcharide, which can access areas of campus ECU buses cannot which may or may not be brought to ECU.
ECU signed a three-year contract with Lime where they could give the university a 60-day notice if they had plans to leave. ECU signed a similar contract with Gotcha, but Rossnagel said ECU intends to have Gotcha on campus “for a while.”
CEO of Gotcha Bikes, Sean Flood, said the Charleston, South Carolina based company currently has partnerships with UNC Chapel Hill, UNC Wilmington, and UNC Charlotte.
According to Flood, because they have worked in the Carolinas it made “logical sense” for the company to begin a partnership with ECU.
Gotcha has been building bikes for almost five years and one element to the design of their e-bike is a swappable battery, Flood said. He said Gotcha’s e-bike can drive 40 miles, and when the battery gets down to 10 percent, company mechanics switch the battery so consumers don’t have to worry about their bike dying.
“Our e-bike is, in my opinion, the highest quality e-bike on the market right now, so it's from a durability standpoint. It's just built better, the technology in it is very intuitive to the user,” Flood said.
Gotcha’s official press team sent pricing rates to The East Carolinian and highlighted how students will have the option of purchasing a monthly pass or opportunity to “pay as you go.” A monthly pass will cost $6.99 a month for 1 cumulative hour of ride time a day, and pay as you go will cost two dollars and every minute after that will cost 10 cents.
Chad Carwein, university stability manager, said ECU and Greenville were in Lime’s top market for rides-per-vehicle per day which “demonstrated a bike share program worked very well here (in Greenville).”
“The students definitely made their voices heard that they wanted a replacement and so the university has responded to that and has quickly interviewed companies and found a contract with Gotcha,” Carwein said.
Caroline Passe, Director of Public Relations for Gotcha, said the bikes will cost $2 to unlock and $0.10 a minute afterwards. She said students can expect to start seeing Gotcha around campus over the summer, with a full launch of the program in the fall semester.