Student committee aims to bring bike share program to UCCS

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November 7, 2017

Sarah Bubke

sbubke@uccs.edu

     A group of students is working to bring a bike share program to campus to connect students to Colorado Springs and make traveling across campus easier.

    Senior Joey Vijayam, student body president; senior Emily Garberding, senator of sustainability; sophomore Elijah Salberg; and junior Nicolas Nava hope to implement the program within the next year.

    A system of bikes in docks at various locations around a campus or city is used in a bike share program. People who use the system pay to use a bike at a dock, unlocking it for use.

    The bike is later returned to another dock in the system or the same location for another person to use. Denver and Boulder both have their own bike share programs downtown.

     At UCCS, the program will be tailored to fit the needs of students. The group is considering the idea of including both traditional and electric bikes, which could increase the cost of implementing the program, but make it easier for students to ride.

     “If you go anywhere north from here, it’s downhill, meaning that on the way back, we’re going uphill. People aren’t going to want to ride bikes straight uphill. Hopefully, if we get electric bikes that would increase the ridership,” said Salberg.

     According to Salberg, the program will be implemented after plans are put in place by the city of Colorado Springs. The city is looking to implement their own bike share program downtown this spring.

     “It’s important that we follow the same system as the city. Otherwise, you will find half the city with one type of bike and the other side with a type that’s not compatible,” said Salberg, a sophomore game design and development major.

    At UCCS, a bike share program would be beneficial for students to travel between locations.

     “If there’s a bike at your first class you can check it out, ride to the next class and leave it at that building. You wouldn’t have to worry about being late for class or trying so hard to find a parking spot. It would be very convenient,” said Garberding, a senior geography and environmental science major.

   Vijayam wanted to create a bike share program to UCCS since his election campaign last spring. Vijayam put together a team to create the program.

     “This is mainly a [Student Government Association] project, but we are working with the Green Action Fund, the Office of Sustainability, Downtown Partnership with Colorado Springs and multiple bike companies to determine what’s best for our campus and what’s best for our community,” said Vijayam.

    The group is looking at a few bike share companies to determine which system would work best for the campus. They will also send out a survey to the student body to learn the type of payment plan students would use for the program.

     “There’s a few different ways that we can do this. Students could download an app and reserve bikes on the app on their phone or check out bikes from their phone. They would be smart bikes with GPS systems, so you could unlock the bike right from your phone if you go to the bike,” said Garberding.

    “Not everybody has a smartphone, so we may be able to connect the system to student IDs, so students would be able to check out bikes with their student IDs.”

    The group plans on requesting funding from the Green Action Fund and SGA to cover the costs of bringing the bike share program to campus. They also hope to acquire sponsorships from local bike companies.

    After that, the maintenance costs will be paid with the money generated by students using the program and advertising on the docks and bikes. The project will need approval from the university as it moves forward.

     “Working with the University is really going to be helpful through this, because this is a completely student-led project. We will still need their backup and approval,” said Nava, a mechanical engineering major.

     One of the things that the group will need to work out with the university are the dismount zones around campus.

     “We’re hoping to get some bike lanes put in on the spine and in the dismount zones so that people will still be able ride bikes through there. This will be important when you have a bike share system. You don’t want to be walking your bike everywhere,” said Salberg.

     According to Garberding, the group plans to start a pilot program for the system to test out its effectiveness with students. After that, they will expand the program accordingly.

     “The goal is just to connect students to the city and make that more accessible for them. To make sustainable transportation more accessible for them. Also making it to class easier,” said Garberding.

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