A year later, bike share program set to expand

The Crimson Cruisers program brought 75 bicycles to the OU campus last year to help students, faculty and staff move around the campus more efficiently and to reduce the number of bikes left on campus. The business OU partnered with for the program, The Gotcha Group, said the program has resulted in reduced carbon emissions, gasoline savings, and millions of calories burned.

A little more than a year since its launch, the University of Oklahoma’s bike share program has been a success, according to those involved with the project. Twenty-five more bicycles will be added to the campus by August.

Launched in April 2017, the program is a partnership between the campus Student Government Association and The Gotcha Group, an organization that creates customized bike share systems for universities and cities.

Since implementing the initial program with 75 bikes, OU has reduced carbon emissions by 70,233 pounds, saved $46,195 compared to the cost of driving a car to campus and burned a combined 3,185,864 calories, according to data released by The Gotcha Group.

Kris Glenn, OU’s director of parking and transportation, said the program has also reduced the number of bikes abandoned on campus.

“If they want to bring a bike to campus, that’s great, but the hope is they wouldn’t have to because the bike share program is here, so it reduces the total number of bikes on campus, which is a goal for sure,” Glenn said.

Angelo Lombardo, transportation engineer for the City of Norman, said the city has formed a Bicycle Advisory Committee made up of citizens to look at ways to integrate the program into the city.

Lombardo said they are looking to install 50 bikes and five bike stations with preliminary locations considered at the Sante Fe Train Depot and Embassy Suites Hotel and Conference Center.

When it comes time, Gotcha Bikes will help the city decide the best locations, he said.

It will be a while before the program is expanded beyond campus, however, because the city currently does not have the necessary funding. Lombardo said the city is working with the business community to look for funding opportunities through private donations or public-private partnerships.

“The effort is still going, and we certainly hope that is something that can happen because it would greatly enhance options for our citizens and students in terms of mobility around town,” Lombardo said.

As OU expands its program through the addition of more bikes and the city explores options, Sean Flood, The Gotcha Group CEO, said they will continue to work closely with both parties.

“Even though they are in close proximity, they both have different needs, so we’ve spent a lot of time with both organizations seeing how a system like this would integrate and then solve challenges that both have. I think we’re proving that it’s working really well on campus,” Flood said.

For now, OU students, faculty and staff and community members alike can use the Crimson Cruisers when on campus.

OU students, faculty and staff receive 90 minutes of free ride time a day, with a $5 hour beyond the 90 minutes — prorated to the minute. Those without an OU email address do not receive free ride time, but pay the $5 an hour charge.

To use a bike, one must create an account with Gotcha Bikes, where they receive a code to type into the bike for activation. Extra fees can be accrued by locking a bike outside of a hub or outside of the system area, according to the website. The Crimson Cruisers website has a constantly updated map of bike hub locations, how many bikes are in them and where bikes not in hubs are. The website also has rules of the bike trail, including wearing a helmet, signaling when turning and yielding to pedestrians.

For more information about the Crimson Cruisers, visit their website at gotchabike.com/crimsoncruisers.

Caleb Slinkard was hired as the editor of the Norman Transcript in August of 2015. He is a graduate of Texas A&M University-Commerce and previously was in charge of several newspapers in northeast Texas.