Limestone University students Mason Gilbert, Abigail Smith, and Alison Walsh are working on bike-share program with the City of Gaffney in a collaboration that they feel would benefit students and the campus community.
The students, all members of Limestone’s Honors Program, will be presenting to City Council on Monday, April 5, at 6 p.m., as part of a required research and community service project in the Honors Capstone class taught by Dr. Felicia Cavallini. They will be sharing their proposed plan to incorporate a bike-share program, highlighting the need, solution, cost, and funding of implementing such a plan.
“The bike-share program would benefit students who do not have other means of transportation to-and-from local retail stores and restaurants,” said City Administrator James Taylor. “The students have researched the different types of systems available, the cost of such systems, and possible funding sources. Their research has been extensive, and I have been very impressed with their work. I hope this is something that we can bring to fruition.”
In addition to their presentation to City Council, the three students will present their bike-share plan at the Limestone University Research Symposium this spring. Their literature of review research paper will be in each of their disciplines related to the bike-share program.
“I'm very proud of Abigail, Alison, and Mason for thoroughly researching the three most important aspects of this project based on their areas of expertise,” noted Cavallini, Professor of Physical Education. “Alison is examining the physical activity, health, and overall well-being of bike riding. Mason is researching the logistics behind incorporating a bike share program, including comparing the costs of bikes and any supporting equipment. Abigail is concentrating on the economic impact a bike share program can provide a community like Gaffney, including increasing traffic at local restaurants, coffee shops, and eateries in the downtown area.”
“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,” explained Walsh, who is from Irmo, SC.
Smith, who is from Germantown, MD, 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,” said Gilbert, who is from Wake Forest, NC.
The students’ bike-share initiative is a part of an ongoing project that was jump-started in 2017 by students Sophie Bosserhoff, Marina Carbonari, and Carleigh Davis. When the idea was initially presented, those three students were in their final semester at Limestone, completing an internship with Cavallini.
“We needed a project to work on and in one of my previous classes with Dr. Cavallini we were brainstorming about how we could improve physical activity in the community,” Carbonari said. “Sophie is from Germany and she mentioned that back home it is very common to bike to places, and there are multiple bike stations around the city where people can rent a bike.”
The students concluded that they could implement a similar transportation system at Limestone, which would not only help the community, but also students. Limestone has a large international student population, with most of those students not owning cars. Carbonari and her classmates believed having a bike share program would ease the commute to classes and around town.
“We had the opportunity to present our bike share research twice to the City of Gaffney,” Carbonari noted. “In addition, we interviewed multiple focus groups to get feedback from the community, and distributed surveys to Limestone's students, staff, and faculty. We put a lot of time in researching the location where the bikes were going to be stationed, the costs, rates, maintenance, and safety equipment. Some of the skills that I learned during the experience, such as budgeting, public speaking, critical thinking, and handling data, I still use on my job today. It was a great feeling knowing that even after we left Gaffney and Limestone, we still helped future students and the community.”
ACCOMPANYING PHOTO: (left to right) Abigail Smith, Mason Gilbert, and Alison Walsh.