January 10, 2012 | Atlanta, GA
After months of soldering metal, assembling parts and testing technology, a bike share program developed right on Tech’s campus is now open to all students, faculty and staff for use.
viaCycle, a startup created by Tech alumni, began testing its program on campus this summer and officially launched its fleet of 10 bicycles in November. The system is the first of its kind in the southeast and is designed to make bikes available for communal use. A viaCycle bike can be locked at any bike rack while the user has it checked out, and then can be returned and checked in at a number of specified racks on campus. Since the launch, viaCycle has doubled its fleet to 20 bicycles, garnered more than 200 users and plans to add an additional 1–2 pick-up and drop-off stations on campus due to demand.
Anyone with a valid BuzzCard can begin using the system by first signing up at gt.viacycle.com, then using a cell phone to unlock any bike not currently in use. Users are not required to have a smart phone, as a text message or phone call unlocks and locks the bicycles.
Jonathan Murphy, a graduate student in aerospace engineering and mechanical chair for Starter Bikes, tested viaCycle during its trial period. Murphy used a bike for a trip to Kroger on Ponce de Leon Avenue, with the whole trip taking him just under an hour.
“I see a lot of people coming to Starter Bikes who could definitely use the system — international students who are only here briefly, or people interested in buying a bike but wanting to try it out first,” Murphy said. “I’m happy to see [viaCycle] here and see the program running.” viaCycle bikes have a wide seat and give the passenger an upright position – one Murphy felt made for a comfortable ride.
viaCycle worked with Georgia Tech Parking and Transportation Services and the City of Atlanta’s Office of Sustainability in preparing for its debut; Georgia Tech President G.P. “Bud” Peterson and Atlanta City Council members Keisha Bottoms and Aaron Watson spoke at the launch event in November.
viaCycle is free to join and, for a limited time, is giving new users $20 in credit when they sign up. The cost of each use is based on the amount of time a bike is checked out. For those new to city cycling, viaCycle provides a number of resources on its website, including safety tips, bike route maps and how to inspect a bike upon checkout.