Bike-sharing system hitting the streets

August PelliccioPhoto Editor

Society has 11 years to commit to sustainability, and bettering the environment, according to Stephen Axon, professor of environment, geography and marine sciences. To help combat that on the university level, a bike-sharing program has been created by his students.

According to Axon, if the program is a success, it will be a step in the right direction for the university’s sustainability.

“We know it’s a problem,” Axon said. “We have 11 years to address climate change as defined by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.”

David Bakies, a senior, and geography major, said he is the mechanical student-leader in Axon’s class project for GEO 403: Applied Sustainability, and is aiming to install the bike-sharing program on campus for students.

The project involves restoring bikes to roadworthiness, Bakies said, and spreading the word to students, before finally implementing the bike sharing program campus-wide.

“It’s a student led course,” said Axon. “It’s run by the students, for the students.”

Sierra Mayerson, a senior, and student in the class, said the system is modeled loosely off of New York City’s Citi Bike system. However, there is currently no method for membership or reserving the bikes.

With no monetary system, Bakies said, the bikes will be more readily available to students. Instead of having a time restriction or sign out system, the bikes will be available at any time.

“We could put locking systems on it, but if we make the bikes available 24/7 that means we have to make someone available 24/7 to sign out the keys,” Bakies said.

Before all of the details are finalized, Bakies said procuring and repairing the bikes are the class’ priority. All of the bikes were donated into the program.

“Right now, we have six,” he said. “We’re looking for about 10.”

These donated bikes are all in need of at least some work, which Bakies generally performs.

He said he will also oversee maintenance after the program starts later in the semester.

Planning and research went into creating criteria for which bikes would be accepted, according to Bakies. He said bikes with a 16 to 20-inch frame would generally be suitable for the adults riding on campus.

“Our hopeful launch date is the Monday after spring break,” said Mayerson. Axon said the experiment is not only aiming to learn about sustainability, but how the department can engage the campus community with the bike-sharing program.

“To do something and to test bed an experiment like this is absolutely integral to the success of sustainability,” Axon said.

He welcomes all students with a vested interest in the field of sustainability to participate in the class in future years, he said.

“The fun part is they get to do something, not just talk about it but do sustainability,” he said.

Sustainability is a theme in the study of environmental issues, Axon said, and people are at the center of it all.

“It is something that is going to become increasingly central to everyday life,” Axon said.

Photo Credit: August Pelliccio

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