April 03, 2009

Kim Reynolds '09, left, and Branden Smith '12, co-directors of the Bison Bikes program.

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By Sam Alcorn

LEWISBURG, Pa. – Bucknell Student Government (BSG) has relaunched Bison Bikes, a community bike-share program funded and operated by students.

Kim Reynolds ’09 and Brendan Smith ’12, co-directors of the program, said the spring semester program is off to a positive start with several significant changes that evolved out of the fall semester’s trial program.

Major changes include:

  • Fleet bicycles can be borrowed for a week at a time.
  • Reservations can be done online through the myBucknell student portal.
  • Bicycles can be used off campus.
  • Bicycles can be picked up and returned at the Elaine Langone Center.

“The original program was 100 people using 30 bikes as a communal thing with interchanging keys, so anyone could use any bike at any time,” said Smith, a first-year student from New Hartford, N.Y. “This semester, the system has more singular bike use in that each person has one bike they can use at any time for a week. They know when they go to the library and come back they’re going to have a bike to use.”

Free registration
Weekly registration is free, but student users are responsible for the bicycles that are in their possession. With registration, each user gets a high-quality twisted steel cable lock to secure the bike when not in use.

“The coolest change from last semester to this semester,” said Reynolds, a senior from Abington, Pa., “is that we’ve moved from registration that takes place in person to one that operates online each Monday at 5 p.m. through myBucknell.

“We worked a lot with Ryan Lebreton (’00 )in web development to create a spotlight in myBucknell so that students can click on it, choose their bike and get an automatic e-mail that confirms a reservation. And we now have an electronic record so we can monitor exact times when bikes have been checked out.”

Booked in three hours
The first week this semester that online registration was offered, it took about two days for the bike fleet to be signed out. In the second and most recent week, the fleet was booked in three hours.

The co-directors said one of the major hitches with the program last semester was that student riders could not take bicycles off campus.

“We wanted people to be able to go into the community,” said Smith. “We see this as a plus.”

“In terms of promoting sustainability, in the past program you couldn’t take the bike down to CVS, so you’d end up taking a car,” said Reynolds. “With this program, you have the ability to go further off campus. There are a lot of great bike trails around here. In terms of promoting sustainability, this covers the base much better.”

Student use
Bison Bikes are available to the entire undergraduate population and will be available through the end of this semester. The bikes are not yet available to faculty, staff or graduate students because the funding to purchase the bicycles comes from the undergraduate student activity fee.

“Right now, demand far exceeds our fleet and we have to protect the undergraduate users first,” said Reynolds.

“We’re working toward the future,” said Smith. “We’re working toward getting more bikes and expanding out to faculty and staff. If we can secure grants or other funding, we want to have a bigger fleet and open it up more.”

Summer operation
The co-directors said a dialogue is starting with BSG to consider operating the Bison Bikes program during the summer.

“That’s really our hope,” said Reynolds. “A lot of students are on campus and summer is the best time of the year to have a bike outside.”

Contact: Division of Communications


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