Rather than walking across campus in the sweltering summer heat, students can now breeze through campus using rentable electric bikes.
Gotcha Bikes, an app-based electric bicycle rental company, now has 500 GPS-enabled e-bikes and 50 mobility hubs across downtown Baton Rouge, LSU and Southern University.
“We’re excited to provide a convenient and efficient form of micro-transit,” said Sean Flood, CEO and founder of Gotcha. “We hope to replace the use of single-occupant cars with e-bikes as a new mode of transportation that’s healthy and environmentally friendly.”
Gotcha bike rentals are available through the ‘Gotcha - Ride On’ mobile app. Using the app, users can find the nearest Gotcha mobility hub, scan the barcode located behind the bike’s seat and ride the bike for as long as desired. Once finished, the user can return the bike to any Gotcha mobility hub and end the ride on the app.
Gotcha is offering monthly and annual subscriptions through its app. A pay-as-you-go option will charge riders $2 to unlock a bike and an additional 10 cents per minute of use.
In addition to the subscriptions — $6.99 for students and $9.99 monthly or $59.99 for students and $79.99 annually — Gotcha is also offering a reduced $5 annual subscription for low-to-moderate-income residents through a partnership with community organizations to distribute special subscription cards in under-served communities.
The original launch date was set to May 8, however multiple delays have occurred due to improvements on the bicycles’ lock design. Each e-bike is designed by Gotcha bikes, featuring a basket to hold items, a bright front headlight for nighttime riding and an electric motor for pedal assist with speed and inclines.
“We’re there to be a resource for the students,” Gotcha Baton Rouge Community Manager Cokie Reed said. “You’ll have access to the bikes 24 hours a day, 365 days out of the year. If you need to run across campus and you have a flat tire, you’re able to access that system as a resource.”
Mobility hubs will be located on campus at Broussard Hall, East Laville Hall, Kirby Smith Hall, Lod Cook Alumni Center, LSU Faculty Club, Nicholson Gateway, Patrick F. Taylor Hall, the Student Union and the UREC.
Gotcha will also have a fleet team in Baton Rouge that will check e-bikes for damages and take them in for repairs if necessary.
The contract between Baton Rouge and Gotcha for the program is capped at $801,000. Individual users may purchase a daily plan, monthly plan or annual plan to rent bicycles. Gotcha will offer a discounted price for University students using the app. The bike rental service will add no additional cost to University students’ tuition.
Following its launch, Gotcha plans to add 300 more e-bikes and 30 hubs to Baton Rouge by 2020. They also hope to include their e-scooters and e-tricycles in their expansion, however those additions are not finalized.
Gotcha currently operates their mobile bike rental service in 25 states and over 50 cities and universities. University students using Gotcha can also rent e-bikes at Auburn University, Florida State University, Morehouse University and more.
“We’re excited to bring bike share to not only Baton Rouge but to LSU,” Reed said. “As a former student, I remember going around campus and trying to catch a bus at a certain time. We are hoping to enrich the students’ experience while they are there.”