Say goodbye to walking; bike sharing will soon be here

Ruth Brown

Ruth Brown

A new bike-sharing program will be coming to SDSU in the fall of 2011 to provide students with free bicycle rentals.

On March 1, the Students’ Association unanimously passed an ordinance to approve the pilot bike-sharing program.

“Bike sharing is a program where students would be able to rent a bicycle and use it for an afternoon and then return it to Information Exchange or their residence hall,” said Matt Tollefson, SA president. “It would be similar to the laptop rental program that we have.”

The bicycles for the new bike-sharing program will be coming from the Mike Durfee State Prison in Springfield, S.D. The men’s prison has a program called “Pedal Power from the Pen” in which inmates refurbish and repaint unclaimed bicycles and donate them to various organizations around the state.

The prison has agreed to supply SDSU with up to 40 bikes per year, starting next fall.

“Other bikes we could use would come from the ones that UPD collects at the end of the year,” said Tollefson.

At the end of each school year, the South Dakota State University Police Department collects unclaimed bicycles from the bike racks on campus. In the future, the collected bikes could be used for the new bike-sharing program.

“We hope to have four bikes at every (residence) hall and eight bikes at The Union,” said Hassan Ali, an SA senator and freshman political science, global studies and pre-law major.

A total of $1,307.64 in student fees will be spent by the Students’ Association on bike locks, the cost of bike maintenance and repair and program start-up costs.

If the bicycles need repair, they could be sent back to the state prison for maintenance by the inmates.

All students who would use the bikes would be required to sign a waiver saying that essentially neither the university or SA would be held responsible if a student were to get hurt, said Tollefson.

The city of Brookings has been planning to implement bike lanes around Brookings for some time and plans to have new bike lanes painted by June.

“I have been a longtime advocate of bike lanes and the bike sharing program,” said Robb Rasmussen, owner of Sioux River Bicycles and Fitness in Brookings, who has been helping SA organize the bike-sharing program. “It’s not only transportation, but it is also health.”

Senator Ali agreed, saying that biking is another way for students to work out.

Rasmussen said other colleges, like Michigan State University, have bike shops on their campuses.

The bike-sharing program is a pilot program, and next year will be a way to test how well students like having the use of a bicycle.

“I think the bike-sharing program would really benefit our walking campus that SDSU is trying to promote,” said Ali. “It would give students a better experience at SDSU and promote a greener campus.”

The SA is also asking students to provide suggestions for what to name the bike-sharing program. Anyone with a name idea is welcome to stop by the SA office in The Union, said Ali.