When it comes to traffic and parking, more bikes and less cars are generally considered good things — which is why we were excited to hear that Kent State University was ready to roll out their new bike sharing program on campus starting this Fall. Bike sharing programs have been common in Europe for decades but they’re still relatively new in the states.
The early adopters here in the US have been a couple of big cities and a smattering of smaller college towns so Kent’s program is still early enough in the game to warrant being called progressive, which is a label we tend to wear proudly here in Kent. The City has been involved in the discussions and planning of the new University bike sharing program, with the hope that we can add bike stations in strategic locations, e.g., downtown, around the City too, and not just limit the program to campus.
So while KSU is getting their feet wet in bike sharing this year, we’ll be watching closely to see how it goes and to hopefully make plans to extend the bike share network beyond the campus borders over the next couple of years.
Here’s the details from Kent State University:
New Bike Sharing Program Announced for Kent State University
Kent, OH (8/5/10) – The Department of Recreational Services, in collaboration with the Division of Enrollment Management and Student Affairs, the Office of the Provost and the Undergraduate Student Government, is pleased to announce the creation of a new bike sharing initiative, Flashfleet. The program will provide Kent State students, faculty and staff with a new form of transportation and recreation throughout the campus.
“Bike sharing is a unique concept that enables multiple users to borrow bikes for short-term use,” said Kim Rufra, Associate Director of Recreational Services. “Our mission is to provide affordable, easily accessible and environmentally sustainable transportation to Kent State University.”
By affordable, Rufra means free. Students, faculty and staff simply need to visit one of six designated locations on campus to sign out a bike using their Flashcard. Fees are only assessed if equipment is returned late, damaged or not at all. Guests, with a valid driver’s license, are also allowed to participate in the program as long as the student or staff member assumes liability.
Scheduled to start operation on Aug. 30, Flashfleet will be available at the following locations: Student Recreation and Wellness Center, Kent Student Center, Dunbar Hall Area Desk, Twin Towers Area Desk, Tri Towers Area Desk and the Stopher Hall Area Desk. Users will be able to borrow bikes, helmets and locks on a daily basis from 8 a.m. – 9:30 p.m. All equipment must be returned to its point of origin before closing. The program is tentatively scheduled to operate until Oct. 31, depending on weather. It will reopen in the spring after the last of the winter storms.
Flashfleet, a second-generation bike share system, was developed from concerns over rising fuel costs, traffic congestion across campus, consistent enrollment increases each semester, physical fitness and a greater consciousness about climate change.
“The program is modeled after a similar second-generation program at Washington State University,” said Melanie Knowles, Sustainability Manager. “Washington State has now adopted a third-generation bike sharing program, complete with self-contained, solar-powered kiosks that allow users to check-in and check-out bikes from any location.”
Knowles notes that Flashfleet is a pilot program. The success of this year and the research collected will be used in determining whether a third-generation system would also be suitable at Kent State. Knowles, along with Dr. David Kaplan, a geography professor at the University, acquired a $25,000 grant to study the impact of bike sharing.
Support for the project has been widespread. With the assistance of Residence Services and the Kent Student Center, Recreational Services is able to provide such convenient locations to students all across campus. Furthermore, the Office of Sustainability has provided valuable insight into the creation of the pilot program and will be monitoring trends and the success of Flashfleet throughout the year. The 50 bikes being used for the program, all Trek 7000 Hybrids, will be maintained on a weekly basis by Recreational Services’ Equipment Manager and registered with the Kent State Police.
“We’re also looking to create a more dynamic bike culture throughout Kent State,” Rufra said. “Currently, there are over 100 bike racks across campus for students to use. Not only do users have easy access here, but they can use our bicycles and visit downtown businesses and other locations in the Kent area.”
All riders will receive a brochure with biking safety tips, rules and regulations for the program and a map detailing local bike trails in the area. To further encourage riders, Recreational Services is implementing a contest in which one lucky winner will receive their very own Trek 7000 Hybrid Bike on Earth Day, Apr. 22, 2011. All those who participate in the program will be entered into the contest.
The Department of Recreational Services at Kent State University is proud to provide the students, faculty and staff of Kent State University and members of the surrounding community with outstanding recreational, fitness and wellness opportunities. For more information about Flashfleet, please call Recreational Services at 330-672-4REC, visit us online at www.kent.edu/flashfleet or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Kim Rufra, Associate Director, email@example.com, 330-672-0464
Melanie Knowles, Sustainability Manager, firstname.lastname@example.org, 330-672-8039
Jason Hawk, Marketing Coordinator, email@example.com, 330-672-0465