Jake Krupa, treasurer for Student Government (SG), worked with the Department of Parking and Transportation Services last spring to initiate a bike rental program this fall.
“Unfortunately, because of the new parking system being implemented, the bike rental program hasn’t seen much more development over the summer,” Krupa said.
SG proposed a free bike rental service to combine with the new parking system as an effort to help students get around campus.
Now, with the color-coded system in place, some students have had to walk quite a distance to their classes. This initiative was also supposed to help ease traffic from students piling into the shuttle, allowing them to use bikes as an alternative to get them to their destinations with ease.
According to Krupa, over the summer the bike rental program stalled because of the priority of the new parking system, but there is progress on a strong prototype.
“We did receive a well-liked prototype at the end of the spring 2011 semester and are working on a way to make the final product widely available to students,” Krupa said.
Richard Sobaram, director of parking and transportation services, ordered a unisex bike prototype last spring to test its durability for bicycle sharing with multiple people.
“There is a bike company that is recognizable called Worksman Cycles. They build really durable bikes,” he said. “I actually ordered the prototype where they put the University of Miami logo on it and they shipped it to me.”
Despite the delay, the plan has not been abandoned.
“We are at the stage right now we’re still analyzing what type of bike-sharing program we should have if we have one,” Sobaram said.
According to Sobaram, the university has several options as far as how they would like to conduct the program.
Bike sharing can take many forms of rental, from self service, which would have students rent through an office and return their bike at the end of the day, to high-tech, where a student could check out bikes with a student ID at a station.
Miami Beach initiated their bike rental program, DecoBike, in March, with 500 bicycles available to rent.
B-cycle, which is a bike rental program similar to DecoBike, provides statistics for different cities and universities on the environmental affect of implementing the system.
B-cycle’s website reports that if 10 percent of UM’s students who drive switched to bikes, it would cut out 19 tons of carbon emissions, saving 1,962 gallons of gas per year. It could also reduce traffic congestion by more than 300 cars.
“When that gasoline burns, it emits gases, most commonly carbon dioxide, and emits nitrogen oxide, carbon monoxide, toxins which are cancer causing and they’re dangerous,” said George Gonzalez, an associate professor of political science who specializes in environmental politics.
Stephanie Fernandez, a junior majoring in political science and Rathskeller employee, finds the walking distance in between her classes convenient.
“I have to park by the BankUnited Center,” she said. “I only had 30 minutes to get out of class, change and walk back [to work.]”
Although the bike rental program will not happen this semester, students can still participate in UBike, a Green U initiative supported by the Department of Parking and Transportation Services.
Students can purchase a beach cruiser bicycle at the UM Bookstore for only $59. There are free air stations available at the Ponce and Pavia parking garages, and students can receive a free bike lock when they register their bikes with the UM Police Department.
As a commuter, Fernandez sees the Hurry ‘Canes shuttles as an alternative to walking, but wants another option instead.
“If the school came out with a different alternative, like bike rentals, I would definitely use it,” Fernandez said.