Bike Sharing Pilot Program for this spring

Ellen Nelson

Ellen Nelson

In efforts to make SDSU a greener campus, the Students’ Association is partnering with the City of Brookings to provide an alternative to driving that is faster than walking.

A bike-sharing pilot program, which would allow students to rent bikes for free, was proposed and passed by SA last March.

This pilot bike-sharing program was originally planned to start this fall, but due to complications with the legalities concerning the bikes, the program is postponed until the spring semester, said Brett Monson, SA President.

The Mike Durfee State Prison in Springfield, S.D. has provided the bikes as part of Pedal Power from the Pen. Program, which is a program run by the inmates. Nearly 40 yellow, refurbished bikes were donated this past August from the prison free of charge. The bikes will remain in storage until the program begins.

Despite the setback, bike sharing will not be on the back burner this fall. SA members are already actively looking at various ways to promote the program to students.

“We’re going to take this fall semester to promote the program with advertisements and to get legal issues off the table,” said SA Senator Hassan Ali, who is coordinating the program.

Ali and other SA members are working to smooth out details of what students should do if they have a flat tire or get injured when using the bikes.

Ali describes the process of renting the bikes similar to how students in residence halls currently rent vacuums and kitchen appliances.

“We’re looking to have four bikes at each dorm and others at The Union,” Ali said.

Though details are yet to be decided, it is possible that all students will need to rent out a bike with their student I.D. and signature.

Along with SA members working to accelerate the program, the City of Brookings has taken an initiative this past summer to promote driver awareness of the anticipated increased bicyclists on the roads. Painted bicycle symbols, along with signs, have been administered to the main roads in Brookings to raise awareness, said Community Development Director Mike Struck.

These measures are part of a program called Sharrow, the name given to the partnership between the City of Brookings and SDSU created to provide a safer environment for bicyclists on the road. SDSU provided the labor, and the city provided the paint.

Sharrow consisted of stenciling in the streets to help raise drivers’ awareness that bicycles have the right to be on the road, said Struck. Brookings’ roads are not wide enough to have a designated striped lane for bikers, so Sharrow was a better fit, he said.

Eighth Street has the most prominent signs and stencils of the bicycle symbol, though portions of Medary Avenue and 20th Street, along with roads in front of Hansen Hall, have been signed and painted, Struck said.

“We’re still waiting until all construction is done on 12th Street to finish all of the Sharrow program painting,” Struck said. “The Sharrow-designated routes still allow people to ride and utilize the sidewalk, especially for younger and less confident riders.”

If the bike-sharing program is a success this spring, it may be a permanent feature of SDSU and Brookings transportation.

The Brookings school district is also looking to encourage their students to ride bicycles to school with a project called Safe Routes to School. Eventually Brookings City Council hopes to connect SDSU’s bike sharing program with the Safe Routes to School program. A grant within the Safe Routes to School program provided 30 bikes for each school to incorporate into physical education classes.

Though still in the infant stages of both programs, Struck said he is hoping experienced riders, such as SDSU students, act as role models and obey traffic laws so kids in elementary and middle school will pick up on such habits and follow a good example.