Eco-conscious students travel sustainably with UC Bikeshare

Photo courtesy of Suzanne Angermeier

The student-run program hopes to encourage bicycle use

Sienna Coleman

There are plenty of reasons to stay in bed on Saturday morning, but there are also plenty of reasons to go out and grab a bike from the Ursinus Bikeshare program.

Students can register to become a member of UC Bikeshare for only $10 per year. After registering on the Ursinus website, the Campus Safety Office distributes keys for any of the 17 bicycles available to Bikeshare members to check out. Bikes are available during daylight hours.

The bike rack outside of Wismer houses an assortment of mountain bikes, cruisers and hybrid bikes. Some of the bikes even have baskets, which can come in handy on a trip back from class or a trip to the grocery store. The program’s fellows, Daniel Berger and Brent Garcia, also work in a bike repair workshop located in the BPS basement where they fix up and maintain the bikes throughout the year.

Berger, one of the sustainability fellows for UC Bikeshare, believes that one of the virtues of having bikes available on campus is that “they encourage people to do more throughout the day … to go farther away from campus and do more interesting things.”

Berger and Garcia both believe that the bikes are a wonderful resource for students because of the variety of ways they can be used. Students can bike to and from class and perhaps take a load off of their shoulders by throwing a heavy backpack in the basket. Students can also venture off of campus with the bikes for a trip on the Perkiomen Trail or to visit a local park, for example.

The bikes can also be useful for local shopping trips to places like Redner’s, Target, or Goodwill, and even for an off-campus meal at the Collegeville Diner.

“If you know how to get somewhere, there’s a good chance you can ride there during the day with one of the Ursinus bikes,” Berger pointed out.

The Bikeshare program is one way for Ursinus to promote sustainability on campus. To Berger, sustainability is for the benefit “of the human race and the planet,” and affects how we will “sustain civilization on this planet for the rest of time.”

“It’s so related to the environment because if we destroy the environment, then [our way of life] is not sustainable,” he said.

Bikeshare encourages sustainability by promoting eco-friendly transportation and reducing car usage. Besides Bikeshare, sustainability is promoted on campus through composting in Wismer, the sustainable move-out program, the organic farm, and other ongoing initiatives.

Sustainability can also alleviate costs, Office of Sustainability director Kate Keppen pointed out.

“Ursinus is going through a strategic planning (Ursinus 150) process, and we are planning for great additions to the campus such as the IDC and the Commons. It is an exciting time to be on campus and I think it is an exciting time to explore how sustainability can benefit the economic bottom line in the long run,” she said.

Ursinus has committed to sustainability and “going green,” Keppen stated.

“In 2007, Ursinus College joined over 600 other colleges and universities in committing to decrease [its] carbon footprint … [our Greenhouse Gas] inventory states that in 2013 we were emitting around 12,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide. As a trend, we have been steadily decreasing our emissions since 2006.”

Using a Bikeshare bike is just one way we can help to further reduce our carbon footprint.

“When we use a bike or walk to get to our destinations, it means that we are using an eco-conscious form of transportation … But really, Bikeshare is so much more than decreasing our carbon outputs: It is about getting outside and getting some exercise, utilizing the great resources around campus such as the Perkiomen Trail, [and] decreasing air and noise pollution that comes with cars,” Keppen said.

Berger also believes that Ursinus is an ideal place for a program like Bikeshare to come in handy.

“This is a difficult campus to have a car on … due to the way that campus and the surrounding town is laid out, [and] it makes sense to have a program for people who don’t own their own bikes,” he said.

Stressing Bikeshare’s importance, Berger said he hopes that the program will continue to “bring people together over sustainable transportation.”