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Greenville Business Magazine

Furman Takes Bike Sharing For a "Spin"

Nov 06, 2017 08:14AM ● By Emily Stevenson
By Makayla Gay

The orange bikes zipping around Furman University's campus might just be the next step in transportation for the Upstate. Spin is a San Francisco-based bicycle sharing company that aims to be the cheap, fast and fun way you get around.

"We’re excited to bring bikes to a campus that boasts great weather and a strong community," says Ben Bear, Spin’s partnership director and head of business development.

For just a dollar for 30 minutes, or 50 cents for Furman faculty and students, Spin will help get you where you want to go. Spin’s armada of orange smart-bikes are equipped with airless tires, GPS, and Bluetooth that can be unlocked by scanning a QR code with their app. At the end of a ride, users can park their bikes and be on their way.

Spin works with city and campus officials to provide an accessible bikeshare at no public cost.  Spin’s dockless system is flexible and suited for small towns and colleges. The company doesn’t use bicycle docks that are expensive to build and take up parking spaces that are always very much in demand on a college campus.

“Spin has built strong operation team with college students in mind,” saysBear.

Spin hires local bike mechanics and students to redistribute the bikes and to check the maintenance of the bikes once a month.

July marked their debut in San Francisco. Since then, they’ve been rapidly moving across the country from the University of Washington to Rochester Institute of Technology’s campus. Furman is their foray in a smaller, liberal arts setting, but Spin isn’t hitting the brakes just yet. The company is chatting to 70 other universities and 90 cities, including Durham and Charlotte, N.C.

The team at Spin has spent time behind the wheel at Uber, Lyft, and Senate transportation committees, which brings together a customer experience-oriented approach with the policy and planning to make it happen. Spin moves with the agility larger companies lack; their approach to new markets are community-focused and built from the bottom up.

Spin worked with faculty and student government at Furman to make the program a success. Weston Dripps, associate professor of earth and environmental sciences and executive director of the SHI Cener for Sustainability at Furman, saw this program as an integral part of reaching the university's goal of becoming carbon neutral by 2026,  just in time for its bicentennial.

“I would see students driving to class from their residence halls,” says Dripps. “It’s one thing to criticize, but now we have a viable option and no more excuses.”

The program has been a success. Both Spin and facilitators at Furman were blown away by the amount of usage at 5.5 rides per bike per day.

"Personally, I love Spin. As a student that doesn’t have a car on campus and doesn’t want to have to buy a bike, it is a great and cheap way to get around. Spin adds a lot of convenience to our busy and fast paced schedules here at Furman. Spin has also allowed people living on different ends of the campus to stay connected better by being just a short bike ride away," said Micheal Anthony, Class of 2018.

“If it can work here it can work anywhere,” says Dripps.

The end of the pilot program won’t mark the end of Furman’s continual efforts towards sustainability or Spin’s rapid expansion.