Yale students broke in 25 shiny red-and-white bicycles, parading them around Old Campus yesterday to mark the launch of the Yale College Council and Yale Student Environmental Coalition’s Bike Share Program.
Starting Tuesday, students will be able to rent bikes for an annual fee of $10. The 25 bikes will be divided among Calhoun, Jonathan Edwards, Morse and Saybrook colleges, which will pilot the program. Bikes will be distributed through the Master’s Offices of the four residential colleges, Timothy Dwight YCC representative Lauren Koster ’12 said. Within the next two weeks the program is expected to expand to Pierson, Timothy Dwight and Trumbull colleges, YCC President Jon Wu ’11 added. (Rentals are open to students in any college.)
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Last year the program was the winning submission of the Yale College Council Student Development Directive, which allocates $5,000 of the YCC budget to a long-term project based on a student vote. YSEC got involved in the project last year to help promote an environmentally friendly lifestyle that does not revolve around cars, YSEC co-chair Charles Zhu ’11 said.
“It’s important to look at bike sharing as a way to get students aware and engaged in ideas about transportation for the future,” he said.
Students who pay the fee to participate in the program will receive four points every week to trade in for bike use: four hours uses one point, more than four hours uses two points, and one weekend uses all four points, Koster said. Students can use the Yale Station Web site to monitor the availability of bikes and must check the bikes in and out during Master’s Office business hours, she added. The YCC will also charge fines if students return bikes late or damaged, or if the bikes are stolen while checked out.
While funding problems delayed the launch of the program, this year, in addition to the money from the Student Development Directive, the project received $3,000 from both the President’s Office and the Dean’s Office, as well as $1,000 from YSEC, Wu said.
The money paid for the 25 bikes, which were discounted at $250 each from Devil’s Gear Bike Shop on Chapel Street, as well as for helmets, locks, lockboxes, keys and the annual cost of student maintenance workers, Wu said. The rest of the money, over $2,200, he added, will be used in addition to the $10 fees for bike maintenance and possibly to add bikes to the program in the future.
Organizers planned the program’s launch to coincide with Sunday’s Freshman Barbecue on Old Campus to draw attention to the program, Wu said. The Freshman Barbecue was originally slated for last weekend but was delayed due to rain, causing organizers to postpone the launch of the bike program.
Project organizers manned a booth outside Durfee Hall from 1:15 p.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday, shouting out to attract passing students. But by the end of the event, only 23 students had registered for the Bike Share Program.
Koster, who helped to register students for the program, said she thinks students who declined to register for the most part were not objecting to the program itself, but rather did not have $10 at the barbecue. Wu said he hoped for about 50 sign-ups Sunday. But with the 26 YCC members who signed up in addition to the 23 students who signed up Sunday, Wu said he felt the YCC had reached its goal for the day.
Students who signed up for the program said they think it could encourage them to ride bikes more often.
“It’s just a good time, and it’s good to take a break from work,” Valentina Savath ’11 said.
Zhu said that within the next week YSEC will hand out brochures and post stickers with safety tips on bike riding. He added that he hopes to make the program an electronic system so that students can swipe their ID cards next to bike racks to take out bikes. Wu, though, said the electronic program was not a priority and that it might be more cost-efficient to keep using the Master’s Offices.
Students can continue to register for the Bike Share Program through Friday of this week in the Bass Café from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m.
Correction: October 26, 2009
An earlier version of this article misstated the residential college of Timothy Dwight Yale College Council representative Lauren Koster ’12.