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New Transit Option on Campus is Catching On

By Amy Wenk, Midtown Patch

There's a new way to get around Georgia Tech. And it seems to be quite the ride.

Startup company viaCycle Inc. last month launched a bike-sharing program with help from Georgia Tech and the city of Atlanta. Less than a month later, there are more than 100 users, according to CEO Kyle ViaCycle founders with GT President Peterson at the campus launch held Nov. 15.Azevedo.

"Our feedback has been excellent so far!" Azevedo, one of the Tech grad students who founded the company, told Patch in an email Tuesday. "We've collected some great data on how to improve usability and have implemented a lot of changes already.

"Overall, people seem to really like the service so we're working hard to streamline it and get the word out to everyone."

The program operates similar to Zipcar, but with a fleet of durable, urban bicycles instead of cars. Users rent the bikes per hour, foregoing the costs of owning and maintaining their own wheels.

"At viaCycle, we keep it simple," the company says on its website. "There’s no need for kiosks or specialized bike racks, so you don’t have to trek all over town to find an available bike, or an open spot to return a bike when you’re done. No complicated locking process, so you can treat a viaCycle just like your own bike.  No fancy keypads or card readers ... just an easy, effective way to get around."

People locate a bike online and unlock it with a cell phone (via voice call, text message or mobile app). Next step ... pedal at will. You just have to return the bicycle to a viaCycle location.

There's no membership fee for the program. Users are charged per the trip duration. The first hour is 35 cents, with additional fees every half hour. A two-hour ride will cost you just under $5.

Right now, the program only is offered to Tech students and faculty. But plans are to become a sustainable transit option for the whole community.

"We're talking to a lot of people within the region to find ways to expand," Azevedo said. "Another option is to have other organizations get their own bikes, which could potentially integrate into a single larger system. Nearby groups like Coke or Atlantic Station have their own transportation ecosystems, and have expressed interest in providing more transit options to their communities."

The company currently has a fleet of 10 bikes, but looks to increase that number to 35 bikes in 2012.

"The spring will be a big push for us in terms of membership and adoption -- a lot of the campus population is still getting familiar with what we do," Azevedo said, noting each bike gets on average 2 or 3 rides a day. He said that number is climbing.

"There's no limitation on where bikes may be ridden, so students can run to the grocery store or across Midtown to shop or grab lunch," he said.

For more information, check the company's website.