Archive for Monday, August 11, 2008

Colleges peddle bikes to students

August 11, 2008

Advertisement

Emory University employees David Knight and Casey Brinsfield ride bicycles borrowed from the school&squot;s bank of loaner bicycles to a meeting July 18 on the school&squot;s campus in Atlanta. The university is pushing its $250,000 "Bike Emory" initiative, launched a year ago in hopes of convincing students and faculty to choose bikes over cars.

Emory University employees David Knight and Casey Brinsfield ride bicycles borrowed from the school's bank of loaner bicycles to a meeting July 18 on the school's campus in Atlanta. The university is pushing its $250,000 "Bike Emory" initiative, launched a year ago in hopes of convincing students and faculty to choose bikes over cars.

— Emory University is hoping to make bikes the must-have back-to-school accessory this fall.

The school is selling discounted bicycles to students and faculty, adding bike lanes to campus roads and stocking bikes that can be borrowed for free. The university is pushing its $250,000 "Bike Emory" initiative, launched a year ago, in hopes of convincing students and faculty that the eco-friendly bikes are a better alternative to their four-wheeled, gas-guzzling counterparts.

Cycling already has a foothold at many colleges, where hefty parking fees, sprawling campuses and limited roads make it tough to travel. Still, most students are reluctant to leave their cars parked.

"They're using them to drive from residence halls to class, which is a two- or three-block commute," said Ric Damm, an administrator and cycling coach at Ripon College, which is giving away $300 bikes to freshmen who leave their cars at home. "We thought, 'How can we provide an incentive to get them out of that behavior?'"

Damm's school, outside Oshkosh, Wis., has spent $26,000 on its free bike program, which so far has signed up half of the 300-student freshman class, Damm said.

"I think a big draw is the just the environmental aspect," said freshman Regina Nelson, who readily signed up for a free bike. "And, honestly, I think that anything free when you're in college is good, especially something like a bike that is worth something."

Emory started a bike-share program a couple of months ago. It has just 20 bikes now, but that will double by this fall, said Jamie Smith, who oversees the initiative. The sign-out lists for the bikes had just 12 names on them after the program started in April, but that number climbed to 45 in June during the typically slow summer, Smith said.

At Duke University in Durham, N.C., the bike-share program started last year had to start a waiting list because all 100 bikes were checked out within just a few weeks. Now the school spends $24,000 each year on the program, and most of its bikes are checked out every day, said Watts Magnum, who runs the program.

Students say they like the convenience of having a bike whenever they need it.

"I've had two bikes stolen, so I stopped buying bikes because they kept stealing them," said Andre Loyd, a graduate student in Duke's biomedical engineering program, as he checked out a bike recently.

Northern Illinois University and Illinois State University have also both started free bike-share programs, painting the bikes bright colors and handing a lock and helmet to every customer. Illinois State revamps abandoned bikes instead of shelling out the money for new bikes.

Some colleges are looking for ways to appeal to reluctant cyclists.

The University of Washington has bought 40 electric bicycles for a bike-share program set to launch in January. Anyone with a university ID can borrow one of the bikes, which give an extra boost to cyclers who may be concerned about tackling Seattle's steep hills.

The university received a $200,000 grant from the state Department of Transportation for the pilot program, and the school said it hopes to add to the 5,000 cyclists who roam the campus each day.

Washington is among dozens of higher-ed institutions that have signed the Presidents Climate Commitment, which promises they will work to make their campuses carbon-neutral. The bike programs are a natural fit for that goal, administrators said.

Comments

gr 6 years, 11 months ago

"while students walk toward oncoming traffic on curved roads."Would you rather they walk with their backs to traffic on curved roads?

Solutions101 6 years, 11 months ago

It would be really great if KU had efficient sidewalks for bike-riders. Wait, it would be nice if there were actually sidewalks, i.e. Jayhawk Boulevard is missing one while students walk toward oncoming traffic on curved roads. If you are coming from the south, make sure you have a mountain bike! Naismith Drive is also terrible. The whole campus is non-bike friendly. You still take your life's risk with a mountain bike as there have been numerous 2-foot holes in the roads.How about using the Student Fees and Tuition for sidewalks (not buses; maybe have the buses going around campus instead of through campus while tearing up roads and being hazardous to students? Hmm.. that would make too much sense), buildings and educational uses such as technology improvements INSTEAD for the Athletics Department that receives donated multi-millions of dollars per year?

Daytrader23 6 years, 11 months ago

With a mountain bike you don't need a road, if the students were to ride across the grass and through the flower beds I think KU would take notice and try to create bike trails, or they would fine the students for destroying the flowers. lolAnyways give it a few decades before Kansas does anything "modern".

Commenting has been disabled for this item.