Project Gear program popular amongst students


August PelliccioPhoto Editor

Dave Bakies said he could not believe how well a community powered bike-sharing program took off on campus.

Bakies, a senior and geography major, is the hands-on mechanical leader for the GEO 403: Applied Sustainability initiative, Project Gear. Now that the program has launched and the students have had the opportunity compile data, Bakies said it has exceeded their expectations.

“[At first] I think we all  had our own reservations and doubts about the project,” Bakies said.

The further along the project goes, however, the more optimistic the group becomes , Bakies said. At this point, the usable bikes donated to the project have all been repaired, painted and placed on bike racks around campus.

“We’re starting to see these things all over the place, people are sending us pictures, [saying,] ‘Hey, just saw one of your bikes,’” Bakies said. “It was astonishing how much ground these things covered once they were implemented.”

Geography major Allie Smith, a senior, who is also in the class, said students are looking out for the bikes with an honor system.

“It’s a sense of community on campus,” Smith said. “These are our shared bikes—we’re all going to take care of them together.”

Geography major Sierra Mayerson, a senior in the class, said she was nervous at the beginning that students would not want to use the bikes, but has seen them disappear quickly when out on the racks.

She said people take them to and from class, and even ride in groups.

Bakies reported that none of the bikes have needed any repairs in the first couple weeks of use, but he continues to check them for safety and function frequently.

As part of the donation process, Bakies said many children’s bikes were taken in, without a real purpose for Project Gear.

Those smaller bikes, according to Bakies, are going to be donated to an incoming community center on Grand Street, which will be run by Lucy Fernandez, current manager of St. Ann Soup Kitchen in Hamden. This will likely be the home to any other children’s bikes donated to Project Gear, said Bakies.

Besides recruiting donors for additional bikes and physical maintenance, Smith said, the continued effort for Project Gear has gone partly into social media presence.

She said a student updates the Project Gear twitter account, often posting with the whereabouts of the bikes as he sees them.

“It’s been good for the people that follow the account,” Smith said. “They know where the bikes are.”

The roadblock on social media has been the lack of a large following, said Mayerson.

Organizations on campus such as the Adanti Student Center Fitness Center have a larger following, and have offered to spread news and share posts, according to Mayerson.

Smith said being a student-athlete means she has heard a great deal of good feedback about the project. She said the project has partly been a success because of the local area.

“Especially here in New Haven, because everything’s so close together, bikes are a good and reliable source of transportation,” Smith said.

The only piece of critical feedback the group has gotten, according to Smith, regarded the shortage of bikes in this rapidly growing trend across campus.

“People want more bikes out,” Smith said. “They want them to be more available.”

Photo Credit: August Pelliccio

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