The Student News Site of Macalester College

The Mac Weekly

The Student News Site of Macalester College

The Mac Weekly

The Student News Site of Macalester College

The Mac Weekly

BikeShare program expanded

By Kayleigh Anderson

For students lacking a car or the pocket change to ride the bus, Macalester’s newly-expanded BikeShare program is a means to break away from the confines of campus.The student-run bike rental service, a branch of MacBike, has undergone improvements that program organizers hope will make BikeShare a visible resource for the Macalester community. This fall six new bikes – in recognizable blue and orange – are among those available to rent, and some 20 more bikes will become available as they are refurbished.

Forty-five check-outs have been recorded so far this fall.

“Hopefully these numbers will keep growing as we get more bikes in circulation, and as people who have had positive experiences with the program continue to use it,” said BikeShare coordinator Hannah Geil-Neufeld ’13.

Bikes will now be rented out from the library, and organizers hope the move from their former location in the campus center formalizes the rental process and create greater accountability of renters.

“Checking out books from a library is something [students] understand,” said former BikeShare coordinator Ainsley Judge ’11. “By incorporating free bikes into the mix hopefully that same level of respect is applied.”

The program offers students the use of a bicycle, free of maintenance costs and permanent storage concerns.

The expansion of the program is timely: it coincides with a 10 percent cut in Macalester’s stored value bus pass subsidy, according to the Macalester web site.

BikeShare gained Macalester support in 2006 and has since lobbied successfully for its coordinator to be compensated through work-study.

Still, it is unlikely that BikeShare will be able to meet the campus demand for its services, even with the expansion of its fleet. According to Judge, the program is typically used to capacity. BikeShare best serves those occasional users who borrow bikes for recreational use, she said, not those who need a dependable form of transportation.

Bikes leave the rental rotation as maintenance is needed, and some are not usable in all weather conditions. BikeShare’s sole coordinator – and its only paid employee – is responsible for the maintenance of the fleet, with some assistance from volunteers.

Keeping up with demand may be possible only with greater outside support.

“In order for any sustainability initiative to be successful it is helpful to have the full support of the campus community,” said Niles Barnes, project coordinator of the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education. According to Barnes, without full support, “the potential for success is limited.”

BikeShare’s expansion marks a step forward for the program which this year has potential to reach more of the campus community with its growing number of available bikes.

“Macalester is doing a lot of things right when it comes to looking at the issue of transportation,” Barnes said.

Varying sizes and models allow for uses ranging from transportation for errands to recreational biking in the Twin Cities. Minneapolis this year was named the most bike friendly city in America in Bicycle Magazine’s annual rankings, making it a prime location for cyclists of all levels.

Bikes may be borrowed for up to six days and come with an optional cargo trailer for hauling groceries or gear. Keys are now kept at the library’s circulation desk, where they are loaned to students, faculty and staff members with a Macalester ID.

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