Illini Bicycle Projects rolls onto campus

By Meghan Bieda

Imagine the ability to swipe your I-card and rent a bike to get you across campus quickly only to leave it in another bike rack at your destination. That is the ideal scenario U of I senior Alex Herder had in mind when he thought up the Illini Bicycle Project.

“It’s effectively like a Hertz Rent-A-Car but it’s only for an hour.”

Herder and his friend came up with this free bike distribution program when they were discussing existing programs in European cities such as Amsterdam.

“We initially wanted you know the system where there’s a bike everywhere and you get to use it whenever you want and that sort of thing, but then we realized well wait a minute that’s actually pretty expensive.”

Herder developed a co-operation because of the high cost. He got space where he intended to store the bikes, but realized that the space could be opened up to the public.

“There are so many landlords that have contacted us saying can you please come by and cut some of these bikes because people just abandon them. So for people like that who don’t actually care enough to maintain it but would like it, because it’s faster and it’s more convenient and that sort of thing. That’s sort of the target demographic. And when we started thinking about it we saw that there are actually a lot of those people on this campus.”

Herder sees a lot of potential in his idea but realizes it will take time. He would like to get Engineering students involved in designing the project which would be the first of its kind in the country. The Co-op is located at 202 South Broadway in Urbana. Herder encourages students to come by for bike maintenance classes every Sunday at 2 pm.