Wellesley launches student bike-share program
Published: Wednesday, September 12, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, September 12, 2012 14:09
Beginning today, the Wellesley College Office of Sustainability will launch a bike-share program for members of the College community. The program will station 15 bikes on campus for checkout over a 24-hour period to students, faculty and staff.
The program was made possible by the Office of Sustainability after Deeba Lea Zivari ’10 drafted the original proposal for an updated bike-share program. A group of Wellesley students then submitted a newer proposal to the Sustainable Advisory Committee and received a grant from the Class of 1957 Green Fund to start the project in 2011.
Under the previous bike share program, the Outing Club redistributed donated bicycles across campus for communal use. To distinguish them from student-owned bicycles, the Outing Club covered them in pink tape. However, this year’s program forgoes pink tape as a way of identifying communal bikes, instead using weather friendly shaft-drive bikes provided by On Bike Share Inc., a Rhode Island-based bike share vendor. The bicycles will be housed in the far corner of the Davis garage.
In addition to making bikes available for checkout, the program will also provide resources to students who already own bikes on campus. The Office of Sustainability will provide a Dero fix-it bike repair station complete with an air pump and bike repair tools.
“I think [the] most exciting part of the program [is that] there’s a lot of people who don’t know how to maintain their bikes or can’t afford the tools to maintain them,” Carly Gayle ’13, a summer intern at the Office of Sustainability, said. “The old program was fantastic, but it was difficult to uphold with maintenance.”
The bicycles used in the previous bike share program did not have internal breaks or shaft-drives and so they were vulnerable to weather damage and easily fell into disrepair.
In addition to providing a bicycle repair station, the College will also sell helmets to students who choose to enroll in the program.
“We have about 40 helmets that we will sell at a low cost of around $20,” Wellesley Sustainability Director Patrick Willoughby said. “The helmets we’re providing aren’t the cheapest [for the program]. Every helmet we sell, we lose money, but we want you all to be safe.”
Although the program is set to increase the number of communal bikes available for student use, according to Willoughby, the registration process may make it inconvenient for some people to participate.
“There’s a three page waiver to sign, all three pages have to be initialed and signed, then we will have to meet with everyone that signed up and manually swipe their One Card and punch their information into the system,” Willoughby said. “After that process, people can just swipe and check out a bike.”
Despite the lengthy registration process, students and staff are anxious to participate in the new bike-share program. The initial sign-up list already far exceeds the number of available bikes. According to Willoughby, they may be able to expand the program next year.
For east campus residents like Gabrielle Jones ’14, expansion could also mean easier access to the bicycles.
“I think that it’s unfair for people who live on east campus because [the stations] are not conveniently placed,” she said. “I would have to walk all the way to Campus Police and back in order to get a bike. By that time, I could have walked to where I was going.”
If this year’s pilot program takes off and funding is available, the Office of Sustainability will institute a similar bike share station outside of Bates Hall. Willoughby hopes that an east campus location would also help separate the program from association with Campus Police. To mediate any lingering questions about the program, the Office of Sustainability set up an email account at firstname.lastname@example.org.
“Campus Police is being very kind in letting us use their equipment, but I don’t want students to think that this is a Campus Police program. It’s a program run by the Office of Sustainability, and if anyone has questions, we want them to direct them toward us and not Campus Police.” Willoughby said.