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Holy Spokes program coasts past one-year mark as commuting alternative

July 27, 2018
Charleston's Holy Spokes bike share program hosts 28 bike racks around downtown Charleston.

Just one year into its existence, Gotcha Group’s bike share program, Holy Spokes, has already pedaled its way into the everyday lives of Charlestonians.

What may have seemed like a touristy gimmick at this time last year has found itself a home here in the Lowcountry.

May 30, 2017 not only served as the birth of the Holy Spokes program but also the birth of a new, healthier community in Charleston.

A year ago, virtually everything surrounding the newest Gotcha Bikes’ installment was nothing more than speculation. Now, the results stand as signifiers of a successful venture.

With its implementation, the Holy Spokes program carried with it a goal — to burn a million calories its first year. The bikers who combined to go on roughly 50,000 trips did just that, as they burned off 4,334,538 calories in the program’s opening year.

Before the program even saw its one-year anniversary, multiple new bike hubs were plugged in downtown. In the first quarter of 2018, bike racks were installed at Mission Yoga on Spring Street, the Department of Transportation office on Lockwood Boulevard and here on MUSC’s campus at the Medical District Greenway at the corner of Doughty and President streets.

These new additions bring the total number of racks to 28, a number higher than many of the bike share programs in other cities.

In its first year, 13,381 members registered to use Holy Spokes, combining to bike for a total of 108,358 miles. Those 13,381 members haven’t just improved their own personal health by biking, they’ve also made a considerable impact on the environment at the same time. Roughly 95,000 pounds of carbon dioxide emissions were reduced in this initial year.

A major factor behind the bike share program’s success is its collaboration with MUSC. All MUSC students and employees are eligible for the “MUSC Plan,” which provides a free hour of ride time every day, 24/7.

This program has helped the MUSC community stay happy and healthy physically, while also easing the financial burdens of commuting via car. In the first year of the program, MUSC students and faculty saved around $13,000 that otherwise would have been used on gas — not to mention parking fees and other inconveniences related to driving to and from MUSC. The MUSC partnership with Holy Spokes has brought a great deal of ease to many in the MUSC community.

Of the many on-campus racks, a few rose above the crowd when it came to active use. The most popular MUSC bike rack is located on the Horseshoe, followed closely by the Wellness Center and Basic Science building.

When it comes to the average distance of a trip, MUSC members fared pretty well compared to other Holy Spokes users. Members from MUSC averaged a trip distance of 1.64 miles, good for fourth place out of the 13 total subgroups. The only members with a higher average trip mileage are pay-as-you-go users, mostly tourists; users who pay for monthly and annual memberships; and founding members of the Holy Spokes program.  

In its first year, the Holy Spokes program has proved to be nothing but a success and welcomed addition to the Charleston community. Benefits in physical health, economic health and environmental health justify a bike share program in this region, and going forward, the Holy Spokes program can look to continued pedaling along as they add new hub locations and features along the way.

Patrick Cawley
, M.D., CEO of MUSC Health and Vice President for Health Affairs, University, is pleased the MUSC community so quickly embraced the fun and healthy bike share program, reinforcing the institution’s enterprisewide commitment to the Imagine MUSC 2020 strategy.

“The success of the Holy Spokes bike share system is an example of MUSC partnering with the community to build healthier communities. We look forwarded to even greater success in the upcoming year through our continued partnership with Gotcha Bike and the City of Charleston.” 


About the Author

Sean Pedernales