Bicycle-sharing program sparks community events
On the UW-River Falls campus a bicycle-sharing program is now being offered in a new way that will be offered to more than just students.
Beginning the week of April 8, the Kinni Outdoor Adventures (KOA) will be offering basic bicycle tune-ups for gears, breaks, changing inner tubes and more. That’s just the beginning. On Earth Day, April 22, the bicycle-sharing program will take off with a celebratory bike ride around the city of River Falls though We Bike River Falls.
We Bike River Falls is a joint project through the St. Croix Institute for Sustainable Community Development and the UWRF Office of Student Life. Together they promote bicycle friendly transportation and recreation options through education and awareness programs for a safe, healthy and sustainable community.
Ian Johnson, campus sustainability coordinator and member of We Bike River Falls, explained how the tune-ups will continue over the summer into the fall school year and that there will be about 10 bikes for rental. The bikes range from hybrids to cross over bikes to meet different needs of the community.
“There isn’t another place in town for access to tools and open stand time that rent bikes out to the public, it’s all very exciting,” Johnson said.
The rental program will be free to students living on and off campus, and only a small fee will be applied to the general public, as well as faculty and staff.
Tiffany Gaulke, assistant staff director for campus recreation, came up with the bicycle-sharing idea on her own by looking at the staff time and budgets. Gaulke is new to the campus as of last fall and is also part of the We Bike River Falls program.
“Start-up equipment and tools needed to begin bike service would be purchased for KOA by grant funding provided by We Bike River Falls. The equipment would be purchased at a discounted rate from Crankworx Bike Shop,” Gaulke said.
Three KOA staff members, including Gaulke and the KOA Coordinator, will be trained in bike mechanics through a four week/12 hour course. Having properly trained staff will allow for providing optimal service and program sustainability through the internal training of additional hires each academic year. During the week there will be four times when people will be able to pick up and drop off their bikes for maintenance, assessments and service.
The bicycle rental plan alone is expected to vary from $2,000 or less. A full-blown campus/city bike share program would cost $75,000 or more, according to the Sustainable Campus-Community Plan, which is expected to take place somewhere in the future.
The second part of the bicycle-sharing program is that a network of on-campus roads, major pathways and recreational paths are being planned with the future expansion of the campus. This is specifically directed toward a more sustainable transportation method besides walking and driving to and from classes, work and back home. The development of a bicycle plan to coincide with and address the master plan of projects taking place is anticipated to cost between $6,000-$8,000.
“I think this program is a great thing, it offers more services to students. Also it will hopefully spark interest for students to bike. I think once word gets out about the program I think students will find interest in it,” said Becky Gruening, a senior at UWRF.
For more information about the bicycle-sharing program or other sustainability projects planned for the University, you can find a copy of the Sustainable Campus-Community Plan by visiting http://www.uwrf.edu/Sustain or also referring to Gaulke or Johnson with any questions or comments.