A new fleet of pedal-assist e-bikes is giving bike share a boost across the New River Valley.

Replacing the orange Roam NRV bicycles previously found across the region, 75 teal e-bikes are now available to reserve for a spin at hub locations across Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, Christiansburg, and Montgomery County. There are eight hubs across Virginia Tech's Blacksburg campus. Plans for additional e-bikes and hub locations throughout the New River Valley are underway.

The product of a regional partnership with Bolt Mobility, the bike share offers Hokies an environmentally friendly way to travel across the region, get active, and enjoy outdoor recreation.

Bolstering alternative transportation options at Virginia Tech through the bike share program is among the many ways Virginia Tech is striving to enhance sustainability over the long term.

Reducing single-occupancy-vehicle commuting to campus and transportation-related greenhouse gas emissions is a guiding axiom in the recently approved 2020 Climate Action Commitment

“Bike share is a healthy, convenient, and affordable way to get around. Since Roam NRV’s launch in July of 2018, it has helped increase our community’s mobility and connectivity. The bike share system has also helped reintroduce former bicyclists to bicycling as a form of transportation, in part, because it reduces the barrier to entry by allowing someone to rent or try out a bike before purchasing their own,” said Nick Quint, transportation network manager for Virginia Tech’s Alternative Transportation Department.

Delivering a Virginia Tech campus landscape that supports sustainability, multiple modes of transportation, and offers mobility for all is a common charge throughout the campus master plan. Initiatives like the bike share program, Multi-Modal Transit Facility capital construction project, and Infinite Loop - a 2.1-mile barrier-free corridor connecting campus academic, residential, and athletics districts - are examples of efforts included in the master plan underway.

The availability of Roam NRV e-bikes for public use aren’t just opportune for positive impact on the environment and mobility, but on Hokies’ health too. 

The VT Better Together campaign for mental health promotes positive wellness habits for students and employees alike, built upon on-campus resources through Hokie Wellness, Recreational Sports, and the Cook Counseling Center, as well as self-guided resources available online.

"Exercise has several positive impacts on our physical and mental well-being. One of those is the increase in the amount of dopamine and serotonin in the body which can restore balance, increase focus, and boost our mood. Cycling is a great, low impact outdoor activity that is a perfect way to explore our beautiful campus and surrounding areas. The addition of e-bikes is exciting because it takes some of the anxiety out of all of the hills. Knowing you can use the extra boost if you need it may help get more people out on two wheels!" said Kelly McPherson, events coordinator for Virginia Tech Recreational Sports. 

The experience:

With adjustable seats, front lights for early morning and evening rides, and baskets, the e-bikes are equipped to transport all riders - from the recreational trailblazer to the late-for-a-meeting biker. 

Each evening, e-bike batteries will be swapped so the fleet is always ready for riders. 

E-bike riders can expect a similar experience to a standard bicycle, with an addition of an extra “boost” by a small battery-operated motor that kicks in while pedaling. As a safety precaution, e-bikes on campus have a 20 mph speed, and on the Huckleberry Trail, a reduced maximum speed of 15 mph.

Safety tips for e-bike riders: 

  • Before riding, give the bike a quick look to ensure there are no issues and adjust the seat height if needed.
  • Brake early, use gradual pressure, and avoid quick squeezes.
  • Automatic lights make you more visible and less likely to hit something.
  • Always wear a helmet.
  • Make sure everything is stowed properly in the bike's basket to avoid randomly flying objects.
  • Properly lock and unlock your bike to keep moving parts away from other moving parts.
  • Be vigilant and follow all local traffic laws.
  • Keep your eyes peeled for things like traffic cones, potholes, and pedestrians.
  • If running errands or making stops on the bike, do not park and leave the bike on sidewalks, ramps, roadways, or other areas traversed by pedestrians or cars. 
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  • Download the Gotcha Powered by Bolt app from the Apple App Store or Google Play Store.
  • Create an account using your phone number.
  • Select a pay-as-you-go or annual membership plan.
  • Enter your payment information.
  • Scan the bike’s QR code with your phone.
  • Go for a spin.
  • Return the bike to any Roam NRV hub to complete your trip. 
  • If running errands or making stops on the bike, do not park and leave the bike on sidewalks, ramps, roadways, or other areas traversed by pedestrians or cars. 
  • End your ride in the app.

You can ride anywhere with a Roam NRV bike share e-bike. A map of bike hubs can be found here. Here are some key things to keep in mind while cruising around:

  • To avoid the $50 fee for locking up outside of the system area, you must end your trip within the green shaded area indicated on the mobile app.
  • To avoid the $5 fee for locking up outside a hub, you must lock the bike at one of the designated hub locations in the system area.

Use the promo code boltblacksburg for a $5 credit.

Riders may utilize two membership plans: 

  • Pay as you go - $1 to unlock, $0.35 per minute.
  • Annual plan - $99 per year. Includes a waived unlock fee and 30 minutes of free ride time every time you unlock a bike ($0.35 per minute after your free 30 minutes expire).

For technical or customer experience questions relating to the e-bikes, click on the "!" button within the Gotcha app to chat with a representative. Alternatively, you can contact 866-265-8143 or support@micromobility.com. More information can also be found on the Bolt Help webpage.

To report an e-bike blocking pedestrian or vehicle access, click on the "!" button within the Gotcha app to chat with a representative. Alternatively, you can contact 866-265-8143 or support@micromobility.com. If possible, please roll the bike off the pathway or roadway.

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