Bike Share Program Gains Support

Editor’s note: This article was initially published in The Daily Gazette, Swarthmore’s online, daily newspaper founded in Fall 1996. As of Fall 2018, the DG has merged with The Phoenix. See the about page to read more about the DG.

Student Council is considering implementing a bike share program. Essentially, this will be a program where students can use community bikes to travel around campus and the surrounding area. Rachel Bell ’10, StuCo president, said that there will be “bikes scattered all around campus, painted the same color, or with at least some type of logo so you know it’s part of the bike-share program. It will be a grab and go program.” Any student can grab a bike left outside Sharples and go to McCabe. However, there is no guarantee that the bike will be there when the student is finished. Any other student can take the bike to Kohlberg, Mertz, or to the Ville.

Swarthmore’s proposed bike share program bears some similarity to a bike share program launched this year at Carleton University. Unlike Swarthmore’s proposed program, Carleton students must deposit a ten dollar fee each year to participate in the program. Students can borrow bikes, helmets, and locks for 24 hours.

When asked if the Swarthmore proposal came from Carleton’s program, Bell said, “Well, honestly, I just thought it would be pretty cool. I like biking. I studied last year in Copenhagen, a real biking city with its own public bike share program. I learned about peer institutions having similar programs, and heard more details about Carleton’s program from my brother [who is involved with the program].”

The issue of security, however, remains a concern. StuCo is exploring options with Key Central to find the easiest, most secure solution. The bikes are intended to be used by Swarthmore students, so one option is attaching locks to all of the bikes and telling students the combination.

As of now, StuCo is unclear about where the funding for the program will come from. They are looking into various bike vendors to find the best deal. StuCo is also looking into buying bikes from Swarthmore Cycles. Bell said that once StuCo has a more formal proposal they will “go around to various offices and departments around campus with stated goals that relate to the goals of the program – be it sustainable living, student wellness, housing. We may even propose to SBC. Again, we want to have the logistics worked out and a written, detailed proposal before we ask for funds.” She noted that “an alumna and biking enthusiast saw the write-up in the Phoenix the other week, and contacted me about making a private donation to the program. So we’re off to a good start in terms of funding.”

If the bikes have mechanical issues, students would need to bring them to StuCo. StuCo will then collaborate with Chester Bike Works to repair the bikes. According to Jeff Cao, Chester Bike Works “can help build the bikes if they are ordered, can help maintain the bikes and can definitely help answer questions about bikes….Maybe it’ll be like Workbox,” said Cao.

Students seem to share StuCo and Chester Bike Works’ excitement for the launch of the program. “I think that would be a great idea. I would use it on a regular basis,” said Emily Rosen ’13. Cecilia Osowski ’10 agreed, saying that there are “definitely times I could use a bike to get five minutes across campus because I’m late.” With the growing support, it may not be long before the proposed bike sharing program becomes a reality.

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