Fake jetpack ads promote Greenville bike-sharing program - WFSB 3 Connecticut

Fake jetpack ads promote Greenville bike-sharing program

An Upstate cyclist rides his bike along the Swamp Rabbit Trail in downtown Greenville. (Mar. 12, 2013/FOX Carolina) An Upstate cyclist rides his bike along the Swamp Rabbit Trail in downtown Greenville. (Mar. 12, 2013/FOX Carolina)

During the last month, billboards went up across the Greenville area and YouTube videos popped up of a man flying with a jetpack through the downtown skies.

While little was known about Greenville Jetpack Rentals, many questions were answered on Tuesday about whether jetpacks were really coming to Greenville.

The jetpack ad campaign was thought up by local advertising agency, Erwin Penland, whose customers said it did just what it was meant to, which was get people talking.

The real "new mode of transportation" is a bike-sharing program organized by Upstate Forever, a nonprofit group that focuses on sustainable growth in the region.

Since the end of February, the owner of this "fake" jetpack company made Facebook friends, and people posted bogus YouTube videos of a man flying over Falls Park.

Upstate Forever Executive Director Brad Wyche said those were all created by staff at Erwin Penland.

"We actually thought the teaser campaign might last a little longer than it did, but the campaign was creating so much buzz with you all and with the public that we decided that we needed to go ahead and explain what was really going on," Wyche said.

The advertising upset some Greenville residents, like Zack Page. He likened it to promising "a little kid a pony in barn, and then you get them a little playhouse with a pony in a barn."

He and Jeanetta Chappell were skeptical from the beginning.

"Because I told this other person about this, and they said you never know it might be for real. I was like, 'Uh uh, that's not for real. That's a joke! Ain't no way in the world that's correct,'" Chappell said.

Wyche said the bike-share program, called B-cycle, will initially involve six bike stations in different Greenville locations and 28 bikes that can be rented on a short-term basis.

He hopes the program takes off with benefits for the environment and riders' health, with Greenville Hospital System on board as a sponsor.

"Bike share has proven to be a good way to address the last mile problem as they say,"  Wyche said.

He said riders without personal transportation will be able to take the bus to town and ride a bike to their final destination.

It may not be as exotic a trip as a one-man flight, but it is a new form of transportation for many, as promised.

Pricing isn't like the jetpack website promoted, either. Wyche said to be a member for the bike-share program for a day, it'll be $5, $15 for a week and $60 for the year.

Folks will be able to take out a bike for an hour at a time, and the bikes can be returned to any B-station around town. The bikes will have GPS monitoring to discourage theft.

The soft opening for B-cycle will be from March 28 until the official launch date on April 9. People can try the bikes out for free.

Greenville is not the first Upstate city to offer a bike-sharing program. Spartanburg launched their B-Cycle system in 2011.

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