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Aug 31, 2016

JMU Launches New Bikeshare Initiative with Baas Bikes

baas bikes logoBy Brooke Covington ('13), ('15M)

This semester, JMU welcomes a new sustainable mode of transportation that can be used both on and off campus. Thanks to a partnership with Baas Bikes, members of the JMU community will have the opportunity to take advantage of a new bikeshare system that allows users to rent bikes at any time for an hourly rate.

Baas Bikes offers a new form of on-demand bikesharing that is fast, convenient, and sustainable—without the traditional setup of docking stations. Instead, users locate shared bikes through the Baas Bikes mobile app, which allows renters to reserve, unlock, and return the bike to existing bike parking infrastructure on campus using Bluetooth capability.

Baas Bikes CEO Rob McPherson describes the benefits of this innovative bikeshare model, explaining “bike share is finally door to door and on-demand -- no monthly memberships or special docking stations.  We want biking to be the most popular way to get around on campus, so we’ve created a new approach to make it as simple as possible.  Just a couple taps on your phone and you’re on your way.  We’re thrilled to have JMU be one of the first universities in the country to use our technology.”

bike and appTo rent a bike, users must first download the Baas Bikes mobile app. From there, potential renters can use the map within the smartphone app to locate, reserve, and unlock a Baas bike. Bikes can be rented at the launch price of $1 per hour for as long as the renter desires to keep the bike. While not riding the bike, the app offers the choice of either terminating the rental or holding a bike--that way, users have the flexibility to ride a bike to class or a meal and hold the rental until ready to return the bike.

According to Transportation Demand Manager Lee Eshelman, the motivation for introducing a bikeshare initiative at JMU springs from the need to offer students a fast, convenient, and sustainable transportation option on campus. “The introduction of Baas Bikes to the JMU campus helps to round out the University’s alternative transportation program. The Baas system provides bikes on demand at multiple locations throughout campus in a way that is scalable and flexible to match the future needs of our students and employees.”

Each Baas bike has a self-locking system along with a chain to secure it to a bike rack.  The bikes locations are updated in the app after each ride, making it easy for the users to find them. “We want a user to feel like a Baas bike is his or her bike, with the only difference being you lock it with your phone instead of a key” says McPherson.  “Without the docking stations, you are free to lock it back up to any rack on campus, and keep it for as long as you like – even the whole day.” 

To return a bike, renters lock it to any public bike rack on campus using the chain attached to the bike. Tap “Lock” within the app--once the light turns green, users can choose to either “End Session” or “Hold Bike.” If users choose to End Session, a receipt will be sent via email and the renter will be asked to rate the bike condition, which prompts the Baas maintenance team to check on bikes in need of maintenance. If users choose to Hold Bike, the bike will be reserved, but renters will continue to be charged $1 per hour until the rental has ended.

bike boundaries jmuThe Baas system operates using a geo-fence that surrounds the JMU campus. While users are free to travel anywhere with a Baas bike and can even hold bikes while off campus, there is a $25 retrieval fee if a user ends a rental session "Out of Bounds" (outside the blue area on the map).

In addition to general use, Baas Bikes will complement UREC’s Adventure Bikes program by sharing bikes as well as UREC’s new Cycle Central bike repair facility. UREC rents bikes by the day, the weekend, or the week. Both UREC and Baas Bikes believe multiple rental options will encourage more people to see bicycling as a convenient and sustainable form of transportation. UREC Assistant Director for Adventure and Challenge Course Programs Guy deBrun shares, “We are excited for Baas bikes to bring their unique style of cycleshare to JMU and believe it will be a great transportation option for our community.”

Initially 30 bikes will be available for rent across JMU’s campus--with plans to expand the number and variety of bikes offered through the Baas bikeshare program in the coming months. 

Be sure to check out the Baas Bikes tents set up on Hillside behind Taylor Hall on August 31 and September 1. Representatives from Baas Bikes will be demonstrating the Baas system and handing out free Baas Bikes t-shirts and bike pumps!


To learn more about the bikeshare initiative at JMU, click here. Have any questions? Visit the Baas Bikes FAQ page.