Editor's note: This article was updated on June 23, 2021.
The Virginia Tech community will be replacing the orange Roam New River Valley (NRV) bicycles with new pedal-assist e-bikes. On June 5, Virginia Tech introduced the use of these new bicycles to increase mobility around the NRV area.
Bolt Mobility, a transportation services company, has teamed up with Virginia Tech and neighboring localities to provide 75 e-bike stations at hubs across the NRV region. The program hopes to expand to 150 e-bikes in the near future.
The ROAM e-bikes provide an environmentally friendly way to travel across the NRV region, exercise and enjoy the outdoors.
According to Virginia Tech’s 2020 Climate Action Commitment, reducing single-occupancy vehicle commuting to campus will contribute to the reduction of greenhouse gases. The bike share system has helped minimize the need to buy and rent bicycles for personal transportation.
Virginia Tech’s campus master plan aims to create a landscape capable of providing sustainability, alternative transportation and mobility for all students and residents of the NRV. The goal is to provide a university landscape with the proper resources to help students travel around campus at the most minimal cost.
“The use of e-bikes will contribute to the VT Better Together campaign to promote better mental health habits for students,” said Kelly McPherson, events coordinator for Virginia Tech Recreational Sports.
“The addition to e-bikes is exciting because it takes some of the anxiety out of all of the hills,” McPherson said. “Due to the (COVID-19) pandemic we have seen a decrease in recreational activities, both indoors and outdoors. E-bikes will allow riders of all levels to explore the beautiful outdoors of Blacksburg, get fit and create a community while exercising. I am excited to see students become more active in the outdoors, relieve stress and make new friends while enjoying the outdoors.”
Nick Quint, transportation network manager and interim fleet services manager, explained that this is a transition from traditional pedal bikes to e-bikes.
“These bikes will have a motor which will assist students in getting over hills and not have them break a sweat in getting around Blacksburg,” Quint said. “With the new Climate Action Commitment, we want to reduce the amount of people driving to campus and get more people biking, walking and using Blacksburg Transit. We hope to reduce greenhouse gas emission in the NRV by 40% by 2030 and reduce the amount of single-occupancy vehicle commuting by 20% by 2025.”
To use these new e-bikes, you can download the “Gotcha Powered by BOLT” app and upload your personal and payment information. There are two options to use the bikes: pay one dollar to unlock the bike and pay 35 cents a minute to ride, or pay $99 for the year-long plan and get 30 minutes of free riding every time you unlock a bike.
“These bikes can travel at longer distances compared to electric scooters that have a small distance range,” Quint said.
Free helmets are available at the Hokie Bike Hub. Hours of operation are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday. Visit the Hokie Bike Hub for more information on how to use alternative transportation.