Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Bike sharing on campuses around the country

My wife found this for me the other day and instead of linking to it I am just going to post the whole thing because it is so great and with all of the college campuses in this town I think this would be a great idea! One less parking garage is a nice bonus...

With Free Bikes, Challenging Car Culture on Campus

Published: October 19, 2008

BIDDEFORD, Me. — When Kylie Galliani started at the University of New England in August, she was given a key to her dorm, a class schedule and something more unusual: a $480 bicycle.

The University of New England
Bicycles to be given to freshmen at the University of New England in Biddeford, Me.
The University of New England bikes are personalized. Free or subsidized bike programs at colleges have had mixed success.

“I was like, ‘A free bike, no catch?’ ” Ms. Galliani, 17, a freshman from Fort Bragg, Calif., asked. “It’s really an ideal way to get around the campus.”

University administrators and students nationwide are increasingly feeling that way too.

The University of New England and Ripon College in Wisconsin are giving free bikes to freshmen who promise to leave their cars at home. Other colleges are setting up free bike sharing or rental programs, and some universities are partnering with bike shops to offer discounts on purchases.
The goal, college and university officials said, is to ease critical shortages of parking and to change the car culture that clogs campus roadways and erodes the community feel that comes with walking or biking around campus.

“We’re seeing an explosion in bike activity,” said Julian Dautremont-Smith, associate director of the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education, a nonprofit association of colleges and universities. “It seems like every week we hear about a new bike sharing or bike rental program.”

While many new bike programs are starting up, some are shutting down because of problems with theft and vandalism. The program at St. Mary’s College in Maryland was suspended because bikes were being vandalized.

“Ours was one that was totally based on voluntary taking care of the bike,” said Chip Jackson, a spokesman for St. Mary’s, “and I guess that was maybe a tad unwise. So the next generation of this idea will have a few more checks and balances.”

At Ripon, and the University of New England, officials say that giving students a bike of their own might encourage them to be more responsible. Ripon’s president, David C. Joyce, a competitive mountain biker, said the free bike idea came in a meeting about how to reduce cars on campus.

The college committed $50,000 to the program and plans to continue it with next year’s freshmen. Some 200 Trek mountain bikes, helmets and locks were bought, and about 180 freshmen signed up for the program. “We did it as a means of reducing the need for parking,” Dr. Joyce said, “but as we looked at it from the standpoint of fitness, health and sustainability, we realized we have the opportunity to create a change.”

The University of New England here in Biddeford had a similar problem — too many cars, not enough space and a desire to make the campus greener. So it copied the Ripon program, handing out 105 bikes in the first week of school. Because of the program, only 25 percent of freshmen brought cars with them this year, officials said, compared with 75 percent last year.

“We felt the campus could devolve to asphalt parking lots, and a lot of people didn’t want that to happen,” said Michael Daley, head of the university’s environmental council and a professor of economics.
The bikes are marked with each student’s name.
“I don’t have to fill it with gas, and it doesn’t hurt the environment,” said Kaitlyn Birwell, 18. “With a car, you need a parking permit, gas, and it breaks down. I’m a college student and don’t have the money for that.”

Michelle Provencal, 18, said she hopes her bike will help her avoid a dreaded side effect of being a college freshman. “Maybe instead of gaining the freshman 15 I’ll lose it,” Ms. Provencal said.
When Mercer University in Macon, Ga., asked for donations of old bikes, it received 60, which are being fixed up and painted orange and black, the university colors. Forty are available for weeklong rentals, and Mercer has organized mass rides to downtown Macon, about three miles away, to promote the program.

“A lot of students haven’t ridden a bike since middle school or even younger, but when they get back on it their faces light up,” said Allan J. Rene de Cotret, director of the program. “So why not leave your car parked where you live or back home with your parents and ride your bike around campus?”

Emory University has partnered with Fuji Bikes and Bicycle South, a local bike shop, to provide 50 bikes that can be rented at no charge at six spots on campus. Students can also buy Fuji bikes at a discount and receive a free helmet, lock and lights from Emory.

Students, faculty and staff can go to a rental station, show their Emory ID and check out bikes. The program plans to add 70 more bikes and four checkout points in the next year. In addition, about 150 bikes have been sold through the partnership in the past year, said Jamie Smith, who runs the program, called Bike Emory.

“We like the idea of bolstering the cycling culture here,” Mr. Smith said, “and ultimately it supports alternative transportation.”

Bikes at some campuses were treated as toys rather than transportation. Others were difficult to maintain or were not used.

“The kids weren’t taking care of the bikes, leaving them wherever instead of parking them in the bike racks,” said John Wall, a spokesman for Juniata College in Huntingdon, Pa., which eliminated its two-year-old bike-sharing program this year. “The other problem was that the bikes weren’t the greatest to begin with. They were donated by Wal-Mart, and others were rehabbed. They had also been out in the weather. It just didn’t work out.”

The elements are a concern at other universities as well. More than 150 students at the University at Buffalo signed up for a city bike-sharing program that has drop-off points on campus, but it suspends service from November to April.

“It’s hard to maintain all the bikes during winter, and usage drops dramatically,” said Jim Simon, an associate environmental educator at Buffalo.

Here at the University of New England, officials wonder what will happen when snow starts falling, but they are looking toward bike-sharing programs in cities like Copenhagen and Montreal as proof that they can work in the cold.

St. Xavier University in Chicago this month is unveiling the first computer-driven bike sharing system on a college campus.

Students can wave their ID card over a docking port. The port is attached to a rubber tube, which can be used as a lock and opened by entering an access code. Students must enter the bike’s condition before it can be unlocked. The system is used in Europe, but with credit cards.
The first 15 minutes are free, and users pay 60 cents for each additional 15 minutes, or $2.40 per hour. All 925 resident students automatically become members through their ID cards. The system was intended to be environmentally friendly, with solar panels powering the ports.
A tracking system similar to G.P.S. will keep tabs on the bikes.

“You can’t throw it in Lake Michigan,” said Paul Matthews, the university’s vice president for facilities management, “because we’ll know if you throw it in Lake Michigan.”

I'm guilty?

It is truly amazing to me how riding a bike seems to have become such a political statement of late. Don't get me wrong. I think that it is a good thing that our public leaders have taken notice and care about the issue. I believe that it will be a good thing for Fort Wayne in the long run. I mean everytime I turn around there is someone on one of the many local blogs talking biking. I think it is terrific that so many people are talking about it and trying to bring things to light.

As I have stated earlier, I rode a bike through High School and through most of college. Back then it was not any sort of political statement. It was biking in it's truest form, for transportation. As it was originally intended. To get from one place to another.

I talk to a lot of people and a lot of people do bike but they do it for fun or for exercise. I cannot blame them. It is fun and it is good exercise. Many of them ask me if I do bike other than for transportation. Now there is an occasion when my five year old and I will go around the block a few times so that she can get some time in, but for the most part I only bike when I need to go somewhere. I know that it might be strange to some. Biking is fun but I don't bike for fun. Biking is good exercise but I don't bike for exercise. Those are just bonus.

I would love to sit here and tell you that I have no statement to make by biking. No politics. But I can't. When we decided almost four years ago, to go to one car, we did it for economical reasons. Having only one car saves quite a bit of money each month.

Then when my wife was pregnant with our son (who is 2 now) I felt bad dragging her out of bed to give me a ride to work. I suggested that we invest in a nice bike so that I could commute the 1.8 miles to work each day (we lived in South Bend at the time). It was at that time that we started to pay a lot more attention the the ecological reasons for biking and although we weren't doing much, I was putting my money where my mouth was. I consider myself to be an environmentalist and this just made me feel, and look, more the part.

So, I guess the verdict is, I'm guilty. I am political just because I am riding a bike and I am coming to grips with that. As much as I say that I ride for transportation, just by riding, I am making a statement and you are too. So thank you for saying it and keep it up out there.

I know that the weather will keep many of the bike commuters in their cars until March or so but my goal is to see how long I can make it until I give up and start riding the bus to work. My goal is to see if I can make it until the first of the year (or further). We'll see.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

From the Councilman......

I noticed this one on Councilman Mitch Harper's blog today and it is pretty cool to see Indianapolis steppin' it up with regard to the bike lanes.



At a little after five on Wednesday, as I was unlocking my bike in the City County Building parking garage, I had a lady that I did not know offer me a ride home (due to the massive rainstorm).
She said that she too was a biker and that it really would be no trouble.
Granted this is prior to me suiting up in my raingear. I thanked her but declined.
Soon after that a co worker of mine offered to take me home as well.
I would just like to thank these two fine ladies for caring enough to ask even though.
It is nice to know that there are people that care enough to offer help.
I gotta tell you it was a wet ride but totally bearable.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

At least 700 billion get us bike commuters something

Pretty cool that the Oregon delegation has stood strong on the bike commuting for such a long time.

I guess they have been trying to get a bike commuter tax credit for a number of years now but always were shot down. That is until their vote was really needed for something!
The bicycle commuter act was passed last week as a part of the bail out!

Check it out!


Bummer for those of us whose employers don't pay federal taxes though. All the rest of you, take advantage and that is all.

Sunday, October 12, 2008


It is exciting news that the Mayor has started the data collection phase of the Bike Planning process. Thanks to Ashley (Commentor on this blog) for reminding me that this is something that needs to be spoken about.

Currently, the City is asking members of the community to give input so that data can be compiled for the City's bike lane/route planning. If you ride a bike, thought about doing it, whatever, please follow this link and fill out the questionaire.


From what I have heard there have been literally, hundreds of responses sent in so far and it has only been a week or so since the thing was launched! (A hard copy survey is also in this month's City Utilities bill) That is great to hear.

Let it be known to all of you out there that this is the beginning of something that could be great for this City and all who choose to commute on a bike. But, this survey is just the very beginning. Planning can be a long process, and for good reason. To look at everything involved takes a while. Below is the definition of Planning according to the American Planning Association.

What Is Planning?

Planning, also called urban planning or city and regional planning, is a dynamic profession that works to improve the welfare of people and their communities by creating more convenient, equitable, healthful, efficient, and attractive places for present and future generations.
Planning enables civic leaders, businesses, and citizens to play a meaningful role in creating communities that enrich people's lives.

Good planning helps create communities that offer better choices for where and how people live. Planning helps community members envision the direction their community grow and will help them find the right balance of new development and essential services, protection of the environment, and innovative change.

Planning is done in many arenas and involves professionals who are planners and those who are professionally certified by the American Institute of Certified Planners (AICP). Planners work with elected and appointed officials, such as mayors and planning commissioners, to lead the planning process with the goal of creating communities of lasting value. Planners help civic leaders, businesses, and citizens envision new possibilities and solutions to community problems.

The American Planning Association and its professional institute, AICP, help planners, officials, and citizens better serve their communities by providing research, educational resources, practical advice and tools, and up-to-date information on planning. Planners working with community members help communities meet the challenges of growth and change.

You really start to understand what is involved, who is involved, and what the stakes are after reading the above. Don't you? Lines like, "that works to improve the welfare of people and their communities by creating more convenient, equitable, healthful, efficient, and attractive places for present and future generations. " I mean that's great stuff! This bike plan could do all of these things.

I will make a confession here that I was a professional Planner in a past life and I am a firm believer that Planning, when done right, can do a great deal to improve the quality of life of the residents of the community. To be honest, I am just so happy that the can of worms has been opened. What do I mean by that you ask? I think that by asking for public input on this subject, the Mayor and the City is now going to gain a much clearer understanding about how many people bike, where they live, where they want to be able to bike to safely, what specific roads they want to do all of this on, etc. (I really feel for the lowley planners that have the job of complilng all of that information!)

Where are you going? Planning takes a while. We need to be patient. I want bike lanes everywhere yesterday too. But chill. It will take months to even compile all of this data! It is okay. This is not going to be a quick win, but, I guarantee you that in 10 years when we all look back as to what happened to get Fort Wayne to be such a bike commuter friendly town, it started with Planning.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Nothin' Much

I gotta tell you all that I have sure seen a lot of people on their bikes lately.
Most of the time they don't seem like they are going too far on their bikes just because they don't really have any gear with them and they seem to be riding at a leisurly pace but it is nice to see none the less.
They other day I was on my way back from...I don't remember where but I was at the light to turn left onto Parnell from Clinton.
I saw a bicycle commuter that was merging from Parnell onto Clinton Northbound! He had to be a commuter (the backpack is always the dead giveawy) but no helmet! What? No helmet! Clinton! Are you nuts! I was thinking about it though and what are the alternatives for people to commute on North of Coliseum Blvd? If you need to go north of Coliseum then you could take Crescent if you are going NE. But if you need to go straight north your choices are Clinton or Coldwater. It is no wonder that people are afraid to ride their bikes! And if you want to go NW then you get Lima. Wow. When gas gets up to 5 bucks a gallon, I would estimate that there will be a few bike commuter fatalities a year in this town.