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With Tar Heel Bikes set to end May 31, students describe their experiences with the program

The "Tar Heels Bikes" bike share program was launched by Chancellor Folt and Associate Vice Chancellor of Campus Enterprises Brad Ives in front of Davis Library on Wednesday.

The "Tar Heels Bikes" bike share program was launched by Chancellor Folt and Associate Vice Chancellor of Campus Enterprises Brad Ives in front of Davis Library on Wednesday.

UNC's campus bike-share program, Tar Heel Bikes, will end on May 31. The University plans to announce a new service with electric-assist bikes this fall.

The University bike-share initiative was the result of UNC Transportation and Parking's Five-Year Plan through the Advisory Committee on Transportation and Parking, according to UNC Media Relations.

This committee is made up of undergraduate and graduate/professional students, and it advises on sustainable and affordable campus transportation access.

The current bike-share provider for Tar Heel Bikes is Gotcha Powered by Bolt. UNC's contract with the vendor ends on May 31, and the University is currently working with Chapel Hill and Carrboro to select a new vendor.

"Student representatives from the ACT were given the opportunity to provide feedback on proposals as part of the selection process," UNC Media Relations said in an email.

The Tar Heel Bikes program started in October 2017 and now has over 13,000 members. 

Rising junior Josh Van Mater said this past semester he used the campus bikes almost every day while living on South Campus.

"It made sense, especially since the whole way back is downhill from central campus," Van Mater said. "Why not, when you don't have to pedal? You just coast down the hill."

He said using the bikes allowed him to sleep for an extra ten minutes since they are faster than walking to class.

Van Mater said one time the tire of a bike he was riding popped.

"But that's what's so nice about it being social bicycles is because you just walk it to the nearest rack and put in a maintenance request," Van Mater said.

He said an issue he found sometimes was previous users wouldn't file maintenance requests on faulty bikes.

Van Mater also said the program will not be as useful for him next year since he is living off-campus.

Rising junior Michael Wei said he understands the benefits of the University offering a bike-share program for people to use but that he has not had a good experience with it.

Wei said he thought about buying a bike to use on campus, but that the cost of using the program made a lot more sense for him.

He said he used the program once when he was running late to class.

"There were so many people out there crowded, so there was no way I was going to actually walk and get there," Wei said. "So I'm glad that, that day, the bike was there."

One of his biggest criticisms of the program was that in order to ride the bike he had to download the application, which he said was frustrating to use.

However, Wei said he plans to use the new program if this is improved because he sees its usefulness.

Rising junior Shay Rooney said she first became aware of Tar Heel Bikes when she saw a sign for them outside Morrison Residence Hall. 

She also said she found it inconvenient that, in order to ride the bikes, she had to download an application and create an account.

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"The rest of it was fine," Rooney said. "Once you got in it was easy to use, but actually getting the bike started was hard."

She also said she had to pay attention to the timer on the bikes so she wouldn't get charged. 

"It's free the first hour, and then, after that, it charges you, so I just set a timer," Rooney said.

She said it was nice that riders can return the bikes anywhere. 

Rooney said she was surprised that the program is ending. In the next University bike-share program, she would like to see easier access and a less complicated process to use the bikes. 

"Because there are so many of the bikes all over campus, but I guess it's going to be nice to try something new out," Rooney said.

Twumasi Duah-Mensah contributed reporting.