Bike bells echoed across campus on Saturday with the opening of the “Big Red Bikes” bike share, a Cornell student-run program that allows students to rent and return bikes at various stations scattered across campus.
The program features 32 bikes at five stations around campus: Balch Hall, Stimson Hall, Kennedy Hall, Stocking Hall and Schoellkopf House. The bikes can be checked out at any time for on-demand trips. Anyone 18 or older can purchase a weekly or annual pass, and less frequent riders can ride for $3 an hour. Students can also experience a one-hour free trial before April 20.
“Bike share is one of the key things to really building an accessible campus,” said Susan Powell, active transportation coordinator for transportation services. “It will be a really excellent thing for people on campus to get excited about, and it will help us start building other bike programs. It’s about getting people really comfortable about where they want to go, all on two wheels.”
The program is completely student-funded, supported by organizations such as Big Red Bikes and Cornell Department of Transportation and Mail Service. It will be available for a 15-months pilot period, and if successful, there are negotiations underway to its becoming an official startup in 2018.
“My hope is that this pilot bike program can facilitate a conversation with the University on building better biking infrastructure on campus,” said Erin Tou ’18, co-president of the Big Red Bikes student chapter. “The bike share program is going to fill the need for students who don’t have bus passes but want a more efficient means of getting around both on and off campus.”
Big Red Bikes is a revamp of the bike share previously launched on campus, which was closed after an unsuccessful trial. After students pushed to bring the service back, they launched a new program partnered with the brand Zagster, the largest bike share provider in the United States.
“At the end of the day it’s about convenience and it’s about efficiency,” said Max Widmer, a Zagster employee working with Cornell on the program. “Our goal is to make it so that someone doesn’t have to worry about lugging their bike around or keeping it in their dorm room, but still having that impulse access and having a really quick ability to grab a bike whenever they want and zoom around campus.”
The bike share requested feedback from campus members in order to function at its best level. Gary Cremeens, one of the directors of Cornell’s Transportation and Mail Services, encouraged Cornellians to post comments on the program’s Facebook page, as well as to speak up at various student assembly meetings.
“I’m very impressed by those who organized this,” said Jung Won Kim ’18, the incoming president of the Student Assembly. “The fact that a group of 10 to 12 students organized this out of their own initiative I think is very impressive. This will save me and a lot of other students time and energy — it’s good for the environment, our health and our safety.”