Abandoned bikes used for new bike rental program

Andrea Baker
Biking is a common mode of transportation for Grand Valley Students

Andrea Baker

Andrea Baker Biking is a common mode of transportation for Grand Valley Students

Jessie Miller

This year, students at Grand Valley State University need not have have a driver’s license to rent a set of wheels.

With the advent of the new bicycle rental program, the university is renting students refurbished left-behind bikes; if the demand continues and the first trial run goes well, GVSU may continue to offer this service or possibly expand on it.

The Pew Campus operations offered 25 bicycles for rental this fall semester, all of which were rented out by Thursday at noon, said Rence Meredith, manager of operations for Pew Campus operations. Three additional bikes remain in stock to be used as temporary replacements in case a rented bike needs a repair. Pew Campus operations created a waiting list for those who have an interest, so that when a student turns in a bike it can be quickly rented out again.

“The rentals are currently being marketed primarily to the Allendale Campus but are open to any current GVSU student,” Meredith said.

All bicycles in the rental program were collected by Department of Public Safety (DPS) in Allendale at the end of last winter semester. Instead of throwing out left-behind bikes, as they usually did at the end of a semester, DPS tagged remaining bicycles and left notifications that the locks would be cut and the bicycles removed if the owner did not come to claim it.

Meredith said the collected bicycles were then held for 90 days before being released to Pew Campus operations, which contracted two different bike repair shops – one in Grand Rapids and the other in Allendale – to repair the bikes in time for their introduction at Campus Life Night on Sept. 6.

To rent a bike, students had to fill out a liability waiver and pay a $40 deposit along with the rental fee of $25 per semester or $40 per year. When students return their bike, they receive their deposit back.

“All the bikes were painted a Laker blue and graphics were added. All bikes are serial tagged and have University Bike Permits. A heavy-duty U-lock is also part of the rental fee,” Meredith said. “At some point we may have to consider other options for obtaining additional bikes if the demand continues to grow. Other universities’ programs have grown so fast they had to purchase new bikes to keep up with the demand,” he said.

GVSU got the idea for the bike rentals from Michigan State University, who started its program five years ago and now rents out close to 1,000 bikes each year.

Meredith said for GVSU, this rental program is a particular success with exchange students, who are only here for a semester or two at most.

“Fifty percent were rented to international students,” said Lisa Haynes, assistant vice president for Pew Campus operations.

She said that because the current program is only a trial run, there have been a few minor issues along the way. “When we had the first set of bikes painted they took the wheels off to paint and did not tighten the back tire enough so it wobbled after a certain amount of time riding the bike,” Haynes said.

However, Meredith said the issue was quickly resolved, and things have been running smoothly ever since.

Haynes said Pew Campus operations is eager to learn how this program is being received, but it is too soon for any data to be recorded on the success of this trial run. She said as of right now, they have made contact with Housing and International Studies to inventory student interests to see what quantity would be able to meet the student interest.

Meredith said another upside to the rentals is the sustainability side.

“It provides an alternate, emission-free form of transportation that is sustainable and environmentally friendly, not to mention it recycles bikes that might otherwise end up at the landfill,” he said.

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