Archive for Sunday, March 30, 2003

Yellow bicycle program set to roll at university

March 30, 2003


Yellow bikes are about to invade Kansas University's campus.

A system of community bikes is expected to arrive in a few weeks, allowing participants in the Yellow Bike program to ride them on campus and drop them off for others to ride.

"It increases transportation opportunities for students on campus," said Kyle Johnson, a junior from Wichita. "It's environmentally friendly. And all you have to do is lock the bike at a public bike rack."

Johnson is president of Your Elected Leaders Lending Out Wheels (YELLOW), which formed last year to pursue the bike program. It secured about $7,000 from Student Senate earlier this month to start a trial run, which will begin soon.

Johnson is hoping the bicycles will cut down on the number of cars on campus.

The trial run will work this way: Up to 90 students can sign up to participate. Each will be required to pay a $10 fee. If more than 90 students sign up, 90 will be selected randomly.

The students will be issued a key, which will unlatch locks for the 30 bicycles around campus.

Johnson said the bicycles weren't top of the line -- they were purchased at Target -- but they'll provide reliable transportation.

"They're $60 and have 12 speeds and two wheels," he said. "They get you to where you need to go. They're not complicated, and they're not expensive."

Still, he said YELLOW organizers were doing everything they could to make sure the bicycles weren't stolen. The bikes will be covered with yellow tape and yellow decals to make them easily spotted if they're taken off campus.

If the test run goes well the remainder of this semester, a larger-scale program with more bicycles will be introduced this fall.

Several similar bike programs are under way in other cities, including Portland, Ore., St. Paul and Minneapolis, Minn., Rapid City, S.D., and Austin, Texas. The University of New Hampshire and several Canadian universities also have yellow bike programs, and they're also popular in Europe.

Chris Entwhistle, a freshman from Palatine, Ill., is among the students who've signed up for the program. He usually rides the bus to class but gets tired of waiting at the bus stop.

"I love cycling, and I'd love to have a bike here, but it's too much work to get one here from Chicago," he said. "And I didn't want to buy another one here."

He said he thought the program would become popular on campus.

"I know a lot of people who want to get some exercise, want to get to campus and don't want to wait for the bus," he said.

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