BR Bikeshare: Startup Guide

HOW IT BEGAN: Bikeshare in Baton Rouge began as a project of the Baton Rouge Area Foundation and turned into a collaboration with public agencies and private companies. Partners on the project are Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development, Mayor Sharon Weston Broome and the Metro Council, BREC, LSU, Southern University, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Louisiana, Baton Rouge General, Downtown Development District and The Charles Lamar Family Foundation.

WHAT IS BIKESHARE: In simplest terms, bikeshare is bike rental for the smartphone age. Riders use apps to unlock bikes and ride them to their destination hub.

WHY BIKESHARE: There are more than 100 bikeshare systems across the country. They have become a popular option for commuting and recreation. Bikeshare’s success is attributed to advances in technology, a healthy alternative to driving, transferring trips from cars to bikes. Bikeshare builds support for cycling as well. BREC and the Louisiana Department of Transportation are financing a bike and pedestrian network master plan, which will be completed in summer.

WHO’S THE OPERATOR: Parish government chose Gotcha Group of Charleston, South Carolina, to operate bikeshare. Gotcha provides bikeshare and other micro-mobility services, such as scooters and electric trikes. It’s also a media firm, generating revenue by selling sponsorships and advertising on bikes and hubs. The company operates in a dozen Southeast markets. Baton Rouge’s system will be its largest.

SPONSORS: Lead sponsors for Baton Rouge Bikeshare are Blue Cross Blue Shield of Louisiana and Baton Rouge General Health System. Bikeshare: Startup

WHERE BIKESHARE STARTS: Bikeshare starts at LSU, downtown and Southern University, and some surrounding neighborhoods in June and July. By end of 2020, Gotcha’s got designs to add Mid City and the Baton Rouge Health District to its network.

HUB LOCATIONS: To start, Gotcha is installing 50 total hubs, where you’ll be able to pick up and return bikes. There will be 24 in downtown, 12 at LSU, eight at Southern University, and six at BREC parks near LSU and downtown. Hubs will be located at parks in Old South Baton Rouge. Hubs will be centrally located and positioned to meet demand. Hubs are from eight to 24 bikes, with the largest ones at LSU.

THE BIKES: Gotcha customizes bikes to fit the environment. The Baton Rouge bikes have LED lights, are three speeds and electric-assist, with batteries giving them a 37-mile range at full charge. Baton Rouge will have Gotcha’s first fully electric fleet. Seats are adjustable, tires are puncture-proof, and a cupholder is available to hold drinks-on-the-go.

AN APP FOR POINT A TO POINT B: Gotcha’s app lets riders unlock bikes with a QR code. All of Gotcha’s mobility services are integrated into one app, though the company is launching with only bikeshare in Baton Rouge. With the app, users can locate a nearby hub, see how many bikes are there and reserve bikes to ride later. People who don’t have a smartphone can purchase a debit card at Gotcha’s rented warehouse at Mid City Redevelopment Alliance.

COST: Annual memberships are typically less than $100. Monthly memberships are available, as are student discounts for memberships. Membership provides one hour of riding time per day, with additional charge for more time. Cyclists can also rent Gotcha bikes by the hour.

WHAT’S NEXT? Gotcha offers scooters and three-wheeled trikes. It also has electric ride-share, where company drivers offer short on-demand trips in a small van. Services are integrated in the Gotcha app to facilitate micro-mobility. Gotcha may expand other services here in agreements with public institutions and governments.

Mukul Verma