October 17, 2011

Bike Sharing Program Adds Bikes, Locations

Print More

Big Red Bikes, a student-run bike share program that launched last semester, has added new locations at Mann Library and Appel Commons, and doubled its fleet of bikes. According to the program’s co-presidents, Martin Leung ’13 and Mike Murphy ’13, the free program — which began with 20 bikes at a single location at Uris Library in May — now owns 40 bikes. These bikes are now available from Mann Library as of Sept. 27, and from Appel Commons as of Oct. 15.According to Leung, the locations of the bikes were chosen because of their easy access and popularity on campus. Also, the logistics of the locations, including circulation desk hours, have allowed the program to function successfully, Leung said. The expansion of the program comes as the program is seeing increased demand since its opening last year, Leung said. On some days, Murphy said, there have been over 50 rides. “At any point in the day we have different numbers of bikes at different stations,” Murphy said. “It depends on the day, the weather. There are a lot of contingencies, but it ranges from zero or one rides a day to the high 50s at least, which was when we had 20 bikes to rent, the original amount.”The next step for Big Red Bikes is to expand to more locations, Murphy said. The group is planning to open a spot at the Vetrinary College Library and in Collegetown, he said.  “We are looking to move into Collegetown, or somewhere close to Collegetown, as soon as possible to get another base of people,” Murphy said. However, it may be hard to find a place in Collegetown with a desk manned at convenient hours for bikers at a business that is willing to work with the program, while still ensuring that Big Red Bikes will be covered in terms of liability, Murphy said. Additionally, there is the challenge of receiving approval from Cornell to operate out of a location that is not run by the University, he said.“It’ll be a struggle, but we’re committed,” Murphy said. “The more people that are using it regularly, the more power we have to increase our funding and achieve our mission.”In conjunction with opening more stations for easy accessibility for students, another goal is to obtain better quality bikes. “We have a solid fleet of 40 right now,” Murphy said. “20 more bikes that are a lot nicer will make our fleet a lot better.” The Big Red Bikes program was initiated in 2008 by the Cornell Sustainability Hub. However, the launch of the program was delayed by logistical issues, which included issues of liability.  “I was really drawn to the concept because it sounded almost revolutionary when it comes to transportation,” Leung said. “People always think, ‘I have to own a car, I have to own a bike.’ Now we don’t need bikes or cars to be parked on campus. We can carpool, or car share, or bike share.”

Original Author: Rachel Rabinowitz