VERMILLION, S.D. -- Students at the University of South Dakota could be closer to having a bike share program, thanks to a $4,850 grant from the Student Government Association’s Green Initiative Fund.
The student-run Sustainability Club will use the grant to start working on a project that could eventually include new bike racks on campus and in the community with up to 50 shared unisex bicycles.
“Biking is really an efficient way to get around campus,” said Charlie Nearman, a senior biology major from Jefferson, South Dakota, who wrote the grant proposal for the Sustainability Club. “And building more bike racks on campus is more cost-efficient than creating another parking lot.”
Bike share programs are increasingly popular on college campuses and in cities. Such programs allow shared use of bicycles for a short period of time. Riders often pay an annual membership fee to use the bikes.
A committee of university and community members is also involved in the project. Cal Petersen, a community activist, retired Methodist minister and avid cyclist, approached the sustainability faculty last year with the idea to develop a bike share.
“We would like to alleviate the parking problem on campus and make Vermillion a better place for cyclists,” Petersen said. His group, “Making a Lighter Footprint,” will help raise additional funding to purchase bikes, install bike racks and pursue efforts to create bike paths and bike-friendly streets in the community.
Paul Formisano, an English professor and Sustainability Program faculty member, commutes to campus each day by bicycle and is researching bike models and costs. He said a survey sent out last semester showed an interest in such a program, particularly from international students, who often don’t own cars.
Students in the sustainability capstone class will take on the Bike Share Program as one of their projects this semester. Still to be determined are how to manage the check-out system, setting time limits on bike use, and hiring staff to check out bikes.