November 13, 2008

Students Kim Reynolds, left, and Katsie Calhoun with Bison Bikes.

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Kim Reynolds '09 talks about the uniqueness of Bison Bikes and program goals

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LEWISBURG, Pa. – Bucknell Student Government has launched Bison Bikes, a community-bike share program.

The green transportation alternative is part of a growing trend on college campuses across the United States, according to The New York Times. Bucknell’s program is unique because it is funded entirely by student government.

A key goal of the pilot program, said Katsie Calhoun, a Bucknell senior from Chicago and vice president of BSG administration, is to promote the use of bicycles as a safe, efficient and environmentally sound campus transportation.

Small campus feel
“This was one of the initiatives that the (BSG) executive board ran on last year,” said Calhoun. “This will add to Bucknell’s small school campus feel where it’s actually a community that you’re living in because you’re not getting in your car to drive up hill where you won’t see anyone. You’ll be on a bike, passing other people and keeping this close-knit community feel.”

Kim Reynolds, a senior from Abington, Pa., and director of the program, said, “We did a lot of research over the summer. We looked at different programs and researched what happens in Europe, U.S. cities and other colleges. We tried to get a wide range of programs in our research.”

The program, currently open only to undergraduate students, works like this: In exchange for a $10 non-refundable registration fee (good for the academic year), students attend an information session on usage and bike safety and receive a key that will unlock any of the Bison Bikes on campus. When they need a bike, they simply visit one of 11 designated Bison Bike racks. When finished, they return it to any Bison Bike rack location on campus.

Rack locations
The racks are located in prime locations, such as Bertrand Library, the Elaine Langone Center, Bucknell West and Gateway.

“It’s a pick-up, drop-off,” said Reynolds, describing the program. “You’re not assigned an individual bike. That’s not what we wanted. We have a small campus. There’s a sense of community and we wanted to play on that and use a fleet of 30 bikes so that everyone has a universal key. Any time you see a Bison Bike on campus, you are fully able to unlock it, ride it to your destination and relock it there. Everyone has the same access.”

The program, now limited to 100 participants who share 30 new Cannondale and Trek bicycles purchased at local bicycle shops, is already oversubscribed, and Calhoun and Reynolds are already hoping for an expansion of the program at some point in the future to possibly include more bikes, off-campus usage and faculty and staff registrants.

Program funding
Funding for the current program comes from the student activity fee that each student pays.

The bikes are easily recognized. They carry a Bison Bike decal and fleet number and some are finished with a bright orange utility basket on the handlebar.

A team of students goes out twice a week to inspect each of the bicycles and to perform any repairs and maintenance that may be required to keep the bike fleet running. If there is a problem, BSG has established a special Bison Bikes e-mail address where problems can be reported.

Greening Bucknell
“As the program has gone on, interest is increasing because people are seeing it on campus more,” said Reynolds. “In terms of why it’s important for Bucknell, if we’re really going to try to green Bucknell, then BSG, as probably the strongest student organization on campus, has a responsibility to contribute.”

The University is making strides on the climate front.

Last semester, Bucknell President Brian C. Mitchell joined with more than 475 colleges and universities across the country signing the American College & University Presidents’ Climate Commitment, an agreement to minimize greenhouse gas emissions, to enhance environmental stewardship efforts, and to foster the concepts of sustainability and environmental ethics in the curriculum. || Read story.

Contact: Division of Communications