Bike Share Returns to Swat

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.

Bikeless students at Swarthmore will soon be able to borrow a free set of wheels thanks to the efforts of Swarthmore’s Cycling Club and Student Council.

The bike share program allows students to check out a bike from McCabe Library on a daily basis.  Five bikes will be available to borrow initially, with three more to be added in the future. The bikes will be stored in a rack behind Parrish.

Students looking to borrow a bike can pick up a set of keys from McCabe’s Reserves Desk and must return the keys before the library closes. Borrowers will be asked to provide information on the condition of the bike before and after borrowing it.

While StuCo’s bike borrowing rules dictate that a student may only borrow the bike for a single day, Erin Ching ’16, a bike mechanic in the Cycling Club, reminded that the current structure “doesn’t prevent you from checking [a bike] out every day.”

This isn’t the first time a bike share program has existed at Swarthmore, according to Allison Masterpasqua, McCabe’s Access and Lending Services Supervisor. In fact, the previous incarnation ended just last year.

“It wasn’t very well managed,” said Campus Life Representative Tony Lee. “When I came into my position this year, I was told that I was in charge of it, and I realized it wasn’t really working.” The bikes from the previous program either fell into disrepair or disappeared.

After hearing students express their sadness at the lack of a bike share program, Lee has worked to create a new, more sustainable program.

Lee has been collaborating with bike mechanics who are part of the Cycling Club to create a program that is co-managed. “[The mechanics] have the skills to do everything we need to do with bikes,” he said.

Ching and fellow bike mechanic Jonah Schwartz ’15 have led efforts to get each of the bikes into workable condition for the last couple of months.

“These bikes [were in bad condition] when we found them, sitting around in the rain. They were old bikes to begin with,” Ching said. “We’ve been trying to replace parts that need to be replaced, and are making sure they’re safe.”

The eight bikes currently slated for the program are the product of many hours of repair work. The mechanics are determined to ensure that the bikes remain safe and rideable once students begin to use them. “We want to sustain the program,” said Ching. “There will be in-depth servicing every other week.”

In addition, StuCo and the Cycling Club will list a phone number and email address that students or McCabe staff members can call regarding the bikes within the program. If there’s a need to service the bike, the mechanics will know,” Lee said. “You won’t have a bike in disrepair for ages and ages.”

Masterpasqua feels hopeful that the newly revamped system will run smoothly. “I think they have a really solid back-up maintenance program. […] I really feel like this group is very invested. The fact that they’re young, that they’re going to be here making the program work, getting it established for the next couple of years is great.”

Lee said that “if there’s a lot of demand, we’re very open to adjusting structure to accommodate.”

The cycling club is planning to share their skills with the student body in a series of bike repair workshops. The first one will be held from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. on March 22nd in Wharton D basement.

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