Bike Share Programs Becoming Increasingly Popular on College Campuses

bicycles on street photo

Bike Sharing Has Gone Global
Bike Sharing--programs that enable multiple users to rent bikes and return them at stations scattered around a city or campus--has truly gone global. We've seen programs in Seville, Paris, Mexico City, Montreal and Barcelona, to name a few. In the U.S., Washington, D.C. recently launched a program of its own, and Portland, New York City and other cities and campuses are looking into the idea. Now, in an effort to reduce the amount of cars--and parking lots--on college campuses, "colleges are setting up free bike sharing or rental programs, and some universities are partnering with bike shops to offer discounts on purchases."Universities Have A Simple Reason For Supporting Bike Sharing
The reason is simple and practical: universities only have so much space and money to allocate to parking. What's more, no one wants to attend a university that is clogged with cars and traffic instead of ideas and interesting people. Granted, some of the programs, particularly the ones that let people use the bikes for free, have been "shutting down because of problems with theft and vandalism," but several universities are successfully implementing programs, while others are about to start up programs of their own.

For instance, Ripon College has invested $50,000 in a program where "200 Trek mountain bikes, helmets and locks were bought, and about 180 freshmen signed up for the program." Similarly, the University of New England handed out "out 105 bikes in the first week of school," with the result that "because of the program, only 25 percent of freshmen brought cars with them this year, officials said, compared with 75 percent last year."

Other universities, such as St. Xavier in Chicago, are moving in the direction of more computerized, sophisticated systems. Their system works as follows:

Students can wave their ID card over a docking port. The port is attached to a rubber tube, which can be used as a lock and opened by entering an access code. Students must enter the bike’s condition before it can be unlocked. . .

The first 15 minutes are free, and users pay 60 cents for each additional 15 minutes, or $2.40 per hour. All 925 resident students automatically become members through their ID cards. The system was intended to be environmentally friendly, with solar panels powering the ports.

High fuel costs and the economic downturn will continue to force colleges and universities to lower costs wherever possible; finding ways to avoid building new parking lots, while at the same time creating a quieter, more welcoming atmosphere on campus, is definitely a win-win proposition. We can expect more universities to investigate and implement similar programs in the future.

Via: ::NY Times
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