Nearly 150 students and faculty have signed up for the Hawk Wheels Bike Share since its Nov. 21 launch.
By: Cammie Bellamy StarNews Staff
WILMINGTON — At UNCW, Seahawks now have a free set of wheels to go with their wings.
UNCW junior Andrea Jones checks out Hawk Wheels bicycle Monday near Randall Library on campus. The bike0-share program allows students, faculty, and staff to check out bicycles for free. CAMMIE BELLAMY/STARNEWS
On Nov. 21 the University of North Carolina Wilmington kicked off the “Hawk Wheels Bike Share,” a program that allows people to check out bicycles around campus. Students, faculty and staff who sign up get one free hour of bike time per day, or can pay an annual $25 fee for four hours of daily use.
“We have a unique bicycle culture, and we wanted to make sure no matter what you were using a bicycle for, you could use (Hawk Wheels) for that,” said Nick Cannon, UNCW’s alternative transportation coordinator.
Currently there are 25 Hawk Wheels bicycles at five racks across campus, and in early January that will grow to 70 bikes at seven locations. Those who sign up for the program get a code to unlock the bicycles, which are tracked by GPS.
Want to get rolling?
The Hawk Wheels Bike Share is open to anyone with a UNCW email address. Users can sign up at UNCW.edu/Transportation, on GotchaBike.com/UNCW or by downloading the Social Bicycles App. One hour’s worth of rides per day are free, or users can pay an annual $25 fee for four hours of daily use. For more information, visit UNCW.edu/Transportation/BikeShare.html.
Source: UNCW Transportation
In his office in Warwick Hall, Cannon can see where people are checking the bicycles out, where they’re riding and how long it takes them. In two weeks 146 people have already signed up. Cannon said the average ride is four to five minutes and users are allowed to take the bikes off-campus.
“A cool feature we have is a rider’s ability to see how many calories they’ve burned, how many miles they’ve traveled and how many pounds of carbon they’ve saved,” he said. “So far, we’ve burned 10,351 calories as a university and saved 228 pounds of carbon.”
UNCW has contracted with Charleston-based Gotcha Group (shortened from “Green Operating Transit Carrying Humans Around”), which offers shuttle and bike-share services to schools around the South. Cannon said UNCW is paying Gotcha Group $110 per bike per month, which also covers maintenance. Part of the cost is covered by student fees: about $90 of the $2,596 a students pays each year goes to transportation.
With nearly 7,000 bicycles on UNCW’s 15,000-student campus, officials hope the bike-share solves another problem: the roughly 600 bicycles abandoned by students each year.
“We are a bike-friendly campus and we do want to encourage cycling, but we want to discourage irresponsible bicycle use,” he said. “The whole point of bike-sharing is to provide an alternative form of transportation that is more convenient and cost effective than your personal vehicle.”
Reporter Cammie Bellamy can be reached at 910-343-2339 or