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MU discusses bike sharing program

For The Miami Student

Published: Friday, November 22, 2013

Updated: Friday, November 22, 2013 01:11

Several universities across the country have begun implementing bike sharing programs, wherein members of the university community can rent a bike for a certain allotment of time and return it when they are finished. Seeing programs like this in his home state of Colorado sparked an idea in sophomore Hunter Leachman.

Leachman wrote up a petition last year for an assignment for his English 111 class and since then his idea has grown into a full-fledged effort to begin implementing a bike sharing program at Miami.

“Walking around campus I noticed there’s not really much of a biking scene, even people with their own bikes,” Leachman said. “I realized last year as a freshman it was really hard to get around when you’ve got classes everywhere, and the bus system isn’t really the best.”

For city-dwellers, bike sharing is becoming an increasingly popular mode of transportation, according to David Prytherch, associate professor of geography and former sustainability coordinator at Miami.

“Bike sharing is an idea that has grown rapidly, particularly in large cities,” Prytherch said. “It has grown across the United States as an alternative to cars, mass transportation or individual bike ownership.”

One bike sharing program of note is New York City’s Citi Bike, which, according to its website, provides residents and tourists of the city the opportunity to rent a bike for 30 to 45 minutes at a time, offering annual memberships for those who frequently ride a Citi Bike. The premise is simple: members pick up a bike at one of the hundreds of locations throughout New York, they ride for their allotted time, and they return the bike to any location.

Other universities already have these kinds of programs in place, notably Kent State University’s Flashfleet program. Those at New York University, University of Colorado Boulder and Cornell University’s Big Red Bikes are just a few.

Leachman is interested in helping Miami become a more environmentally sustainable campus and is a member of Net Impact, an undergraduate student business organization.

“Our goal is to make business more sustainable. We focus on three key areas: economics, the environment and social responsibility,” Paul Salvado, public relations and marketing chair said.

Salvado said a potential bike sharing program at Miami would be a step in the right direction.

“Really it’s all about putting convenience at the forefront, for the students, the university and the environment,” Salvado said.

And according to Salvado, this program would do just that.

Prytherch said one obstacle facing the implementation of a potential bike sharing program is the logistics of the infrastructure.

“The first basic thing is that there are safe, convenient pathways for people to get from point A to point B,” Prytherch said.

He said Miami has been developing and implementing a master plan that focuses on alternative transportation and overall sustainability.

“The result of what you can see are all the new and wider multi-use paths and sidewalks on campus, like along Patterson [Avenue],” Prytherch said. “Miami is investing millions of dollars in creating a safer place for people to ride.”

Prytherch said a bike sharing program specifically is not on the agenda for the university’s effort to attain President Hodge’s Sustainability Commitments and Goals, however, Prytherch said he believes this kind of program at Miami is very possible.

“I think that in the next few years, we’ll have the bicycle safety infrastructure that will make biking a far more attractive option than it is right now,” Prytherch said. “And I think that a bike-share program is something the university will probably consider in the near future.”

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