Getting around campus has become much easier for students and staff at the University of Richmond.
In September, 35 green bikes were placed around campus for students to ride to class, the library, residence halls, or other destinations.
Students can pick up and leave the bikes at racks placed throughout the campus.
The bike program was the idea of students in the campus Sierra Club and RENEW (Richmond Environmental Network for Economic Willpower), which have merged to form Green UR. The group has been working with campus Recreation and Wellness to implement the bike program.
“The Richmond campus is very bikeable, and we just wanted to see more students out there on bikes, both for exercise and for the environment,” says Karen DeBonis, a member of Green UR.
“The bikes reduce traffic and minimize the University’s carbon footprint,” says Tom Roberts, director of recreation and wellness, “The program also supports the goals of the nationwide (college) Presidents’ Climate Commitment and encourages everyone in our campus community to live healthy, balanced lives.”
14 new, yellow bikes have been purchased to supplement the original 35 placed in service in the fall.
How is the program working?
“There used to be people who would make fun of the program, or be like, ‘Stupid green bike,’ and kick it, but now people are like, ‘Sweet, green bike,’ and jump on. It’s been great to see that happening over time,” said sophomore Jerry Giordano, president of GreenUR, “It’s clear to anyone that has set foot outside campus in the last two weeks that the bikes have been generally well received. Every day I see members of the university community enjoying and taking advantage of the green bikes.”
According to bike mechanic Daniel Kinka, there have been some initial glitches and bikes were being treated roughly. But things seem to be going better. Kinka said there hadn’t been any major damages to bikes so far this semester. “The damages are all very minor, and only constitute 10 to 15 minute repairs on average,” he said, “However, what’s unsettling is the obvious fact that much of the damage is intentional, or at the very least, the result of flagrant neglect.”
In addition to Kinka, the university will be hiring one or two student mechanics from GreenUR, Giordano said. “Many students don’t know this, but they can take their own bikes and get free maintenance,” he added.
“Next year is the first year the bike program will be in full swing, with the maintenance shop, the store, the bike sale and the whole inventory,” Giordano said, “If the bike programs become popular enough, and this becomes more of a bike-oriented campus, we’re hoping especially the freshmen will catch on and maybe we can get more funding and nicer bikes.”