Thanks to a partnership between Limestone and the City of Gaffney, a new bike-share pilot program will soon become a reality at the University.
Limestone students Mason Gilbert, Abigail Smith, and Alison Walsh made a presentation to the City Council in April of 2021 to pitch the concept of a collaborative bike-share program that they felt would benefit students and the community.
According to Gaffney City Administrator James Taylor, funds were recently identified from the American Rescue Plan Act, and City Council voted unanimously to allocate $25,000 from those funds for the first phase of the proposed bike-share program. Taylor said the City of Gaffney is now ready to work with Limestone to implement the pilot program and to have the bikes in place at Limestone this fall – just in time for the start of the 2022-2023 academic year. The plan is to use the initial phase as a pilot project in hopes to later make the bikes available across the city.
“The City of Gaffney is grateful that Limestone University’s students, faculty, and staff for identifying projects that can be used for the betterment of our community,” Taylor said. “The bike-share program will benefit students who do not have other means of transportation to-and-from local retail stores and restaurants.”
The Limestone students, all members of the Honors College, initially presented to City Council as part of a required research and community service project in their Capstone class taught by Dr. Felicia Cavallini. They shared their proposed plan to incorporate a bike-share program, highlighting the need, solution, cost, and funding of implementing such a plan.
“One thing that I found during my research is that a big part of sustainability of bike-share programs is partnering with universities, which is why it is so exciting that were able to do this at Limestone,” Walsh noted.
Smith added, “The aim of bike shares is to improve air quality, decrease traffic congestion, and to improve cycling levels, which would lead to an increase in physical activity which would improve overall health.”
“Using Limestone as a pilot program will encourage high usage and a love for the bike-share program to work its way into Gaffney in the future,” Gilbert explained.
The students’ bike-share initiative is part of an ongoing project that was jump-started in 2017 by students Sophie Bosserhoff, Marina Carbonara, and Carleigh Davis. When the idea was initially presented, those three students were in their final semester at Limestone, completing an internship with Cavallini.
“About five years ago when this idea first started, I thought our Gaffney and Limestone communities could benefit greatly from a bike-share program,” Cavallini said. “For any progress to occur in any environment, research is necessary, usually in multiple phases. The knowledge and benefit of human physical movement are at the core of the purpose of Exercise Science. That initial research study laid the critical foundation to take this research project to the next level with resounding success. This is so exciting for our Gaffney and Limestone. These are the kinds of programs that increase the quality of living and health for all residents in the Gaffney community that can last a lifetime.”
During their presentation last year, the students explained that such a bike-share program, starting with a pilot project at Limestone, would not only help the community, but also many of the University’s students. Limestone has a large international student population, with most of those students not owning cars. A bike-share program would improve the commute to classes and around town to shop and to make it easier to become a part of the fabric of the local community.