At a recent meeting of the Graduate Student Assembly, members of the Yale community discussed the University’s recently introduced bike-share program, just one day after New Haven launched a similar program for residents of the Elm City.
During the Feb 21. meeting, attendees discussed potential concerns surrounding Yale’s bike-share system and the possibility of merging the University and city programs in the future. The speakers included a graduate student affiliated with the Yale Office of Sustainability and a representative from Noa Technologies, the cloud-based platform responsible for the Noa Rider app that the Yale bike-share program uses.
After downloading the Noa Rider App, people can purchase a bike-share membership and use their smartphones to lock and unlock bikes stationed at different drop zones in the vicinity.
“I’m optimistic that maybe more people will use bikes,” said Wendy Xiao GRD ’18 MED ’18, chair of the Graduate Student Assembly. “I think that New Haven is not exactly the most bike friendly city. … Maybe [with] more bikes on the road and an official bike-share that will be improved.”
Drop zones for the Yale bike-share program, which launched last December, include the Kline Geology Lab, the Becton Center, Payne Whitney Gymnasium, Old Campus and Cedar Street. Membership in the bike-share system does not grant membership to New Haven’s bike-share program
In a study released by Yale Transportation Options in 2017, 8 percent of Yale commuters said they typically biked to work or class. And more than 20 percent of the 1,185 respondents to a 2017 transit and security survey conducted by the Graduate Student Assembly and the Graduate and Professional Student Senate said they biked to work.
In a statement on its website, Yale Transportation Options expressed hope that its partnership with Noa would push the University closer to its goal of carbon neutrality by 2050.
Sarah Smaga GRD ’19, who used the University’s old bike-share program, Zagster, before buying her own bike, said that while she likes the design of the new program, she is concerned it does not offer adequate opportunities to travel far beyond campus.
“The Yale program doesn’t seem designed for students to use the bikes for trips around the city, since it charges an additional fee for rides over an hour and the pickup [and] drop-off stations are on campus,” Smaga said. “For graduate students especially, who may want to use the bike for a trip to Stop and Shop or to commute, this could be a disadvantage.”
Smaga added that a single citywide bike share program that had more access points for pickup and drop-off might better suit the needs of graduate students and the community at large.
While many graduate students are enthusiastic about the bike-share program, some questioned the security of the drop-off sites. According to Chair of the Graduate Student Assembly Transit and Security Committee Fabian Schrey GRD ’19, a recent study conducted by his committee found that biking programs have great potential at the graduate and professional schools but that the security of bike locations is a limiting factor.
“I think we are very thrilled to have investment in biking infrastructure,” Schrey said. “We just think there needs to be more in order for people to take it up because there’s now access to biking, but it’s not safe enough for people to do it.”
Y-Bike, the University’s departmental bike program, launched in 2008.
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