Bike sharing would ease campus transportation woes

By Harrison Lindholm, Columnist

Cities across America are introducing bike sharing programs for quick rides to get around town. Perhaps most notable to University students are Chicago’s Divvy Bikes, but the programs have proliferated across the country.

A bike sharing program on campus would be an economical option for getting around and much more convenient than waiting for buses that have become unreliable. Bike sharing gives students a much more independent experience on campus and around Champaign-Urbana. 

A shared bike program would reduce the issue of bike theft, and would be a great asset to those students who often wake up just a bit too late for class every morning.

Bikes could be stationed at highly populated areas, similar to bus stops. There could be some near every dorm and by apartment-heavy areas such as Stoughton and Healey streets, making them easy and accessible for both students and faculty across campus. Bike sharing will not have a lasting impact on the community or be a worthwhile investment unless it is implemented in earnest.

Although payment may seem like a hassle, users could pay upfront for a semester, academic year or yearly membership. In Chicago, the annual membership for Divvy is $99, which includes unlimited 30-minute rides. If rides go beyond the set time, you are charged a small fee. The benefit of a yearly fee is that a customer will have a clear idea of what their costs will be beforehand, allowing them to budget accordingly.

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Alternately, the University could charge by the hour. Smaller cities like West Palm Beach and South Bend offer their shared bikes by timed rates, which would be a better option for students.

For example, Notre Dame uses LimeBike, which does not require that bikes be dropped off at a dock. Students are also free of the burden of maintaining and servicing their own bikes, and are offered a discounted rate of $.50 per 30-minute ride.

Using a timed rate makes bike sharing more affordable to those who are really pinching their pennies, and it is convenient for those who do not plan to use the service frequently.

Having bikes widely available will lower the prices of other transportation options. If more options are available, the prices of other types of transportation will become more competitive and eventually decrease. For instance, perhaps the price of parking will decrease, since more people will opt for bike sharing.

In addition, a bike sharing service is a great opportunity to get students off campus. Some students without cars miss out on opportunities to visit downtown Champaign and Urbana, which is a shame given all of the enjoyable local businesses.

With the decreasing reliability of buses and the heavy traffic throughout campus as construction continues, adding a bike sharing program to the University will clearly be beneficial. Increased variety, economic advantages and surefire reliability are just a few of the many reasons the University should consider a bike sharing service.

Harrison is a junior in ACES.

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