New bike share program gives One80 Place's homeless a way around the city

New bike share program gives One80 Place's homeless a way around the city

It's a new bike sharing program to help with some of life's toughest transitions. The Charleston homeless shelter, One80 Place, has received five community bicycles for shelter guests to use.

The bikes help them get to things like doctor's appointments and job interviews. The program even gives William Willingham a chance to get some exercise.

"It's wonderful having that thing," he said Tuesday. "I couldn't get around without it"

Willingham has been a 'guest' at the shelter for roughly four weeks. He's trying to get back on his feet.

"I go to the library and back. I go all the way down Meeting Street looking for jobs," William Willingham said Tuesday.

Representatives with One80 Place the bikes come from a generous donor. They've partnered with several city programs to keep them working.

"What's been really great is just the pride that you do see in them utilizing a bike -- a new bike -- that they've really been able to take care of as well," Brad Cashman said.

He's the Director of Community Engagement. Bikes have been in circulation for roughly five years at the shelter. Until now, the organization would give any resident with a permanent job a bike of their own to take to work.

Now, Cashman said, there's also an easy way for those without jobs to find them. The system is easy.

"All they need to do is go to the front desk and let our staff know they want to check the bike out. They unlock it, ride, and bring it back," he said.

The program has been running since May. It started at the same time CARTA changed its routes. Representatives with the bus company said no routes were cut but some do take longer to travel under this new system.

CARTA issued the following statement:

"CARTA continues to provide reliable service to important locations across the Lowcountry for thousands of riders every day. In this instance, system leadership is already working with officials at the Charleston Dorchester Mental Health Center to address customer concerns. Current steps include further rider outreach and education on route and transfer changes, among other efforts. Route adjustments made earlier this year were implemented with an eye on regional efficiency and with the overall health of the CARTA system in mind. When resources are in place that will allow for the responsible increase of service frequency, CARTA leadership is committed to taking necessary steps to ensure a raised volume of service throughout the region."

Cashman said there's been roughly 120 rides so far. Willingham said the program is getting more and more attention.

"I've seen quite a few people checking out bikes now that they see I've been using it a lot -- see that it's actually good to use," said Willingham.

It's a sense of freedom Willingham said he wouldn't otherwise have.

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