Roam NRV bikes are abandoned after company silently ceases operations

Blacksburg's popular bike program disrupted after four years when operating company left.

BLACKSBURG, Va. – Thousands of college students and cyclists around Montgomery County took advantage of a local bike share program, but after four years, the operating company bolted from the program leaving Blacksburg with more questions than answers.

Normally, you can pedal to the metal on one of the 75 Roam NRV bikes to enjoy the Huckleberry Trail, commute around Virginia Tech or ride through Blacksburg and Christiansburg.

But now it’s come to an abrupt halt. Each of the 16 bike hub locations in the New River Valley has an out-of-service sign.

“It would be a shame if this is the end of the program,” Blacksburg Transit Communications and Customer Support Manager Ken Tucker said. “But at this point we don’t know.”

The Town of Blacksburg realized the bikes stopped operating nearly a month ago. They reached out to the operator, Bolt Mobility, but have not heard a response from the company.

“It’s a disappointment to our community,” Tucker said.

Tucker said it was a great tool to cut down on carbon emissions while enjoying nature in Montgomery County. It also served as another method of transportation for people who needed it the most.

“If you didn’t have a car and you wanted to get from point A to point B the bikes could be very useful for that and not having to make an investment in buying one,” Tucker said.

Just a year ago, Bolt Mobility partnered with Blacksburg to turn the regular bikes into electric bikes – A move the town thought would be a step forward.

Several cities across the nation felt the same vanish from the bike operating company.

But two days ago, the company finally posted a statement on its website.

On June 30, 2022, with equity investors failing to deliver on committed investment, Bolt Mobility was forced to significantly scale back operations. Prior to this decision, Bolt Mobility had every intention of remaining fully operational and even to expand into additional markets. Any suggestion otherwise is wholly inaccurate. As of July 2022, independent owners/operators were running day-to-day operations in 25 of Bolt Mobility’s 33 markets—which enables these markets to continue to operate today. As for the eight markets still then-operated by Bolt Mobility headquarters, the intention had been to continue their respective operations via forthcoming, agreed-upon investment.

Bolt Mobility

The Town of Blacksburg never received this statement from Bolt Mobility.

“Posting something on their website is not the same as being responsive to our community’s needs and our expectations and our contractional agreement,” Tucker said.

Tucker said the company has violated its contract but hopes to develop some solution to keep the program going.

About the Author:

Alexus joined 10 News in October 2020.