Friday, January 27, 2012

Bike share program “one more option” to stay healthy

     As you can imagine with any student, school eats up a lot of your free time. Many of you have been in the same position as I am; finding yourself staring a book for several hours and when you finally look up from your book in study hall, it's ten o'clock at night and you only have minutes before the last bus leaves to get you home. I'm making it my goal to post an article or two a week, so my blog doesn't start to collect dust. I had to break out the swiffer to get this post started up! I was browsing The Aquinian website (STU's student news), and came across this story:

The bikes for St. Thomas University’s bike share program have been locked up until the snow clears in the spring.
Tami Hill, a member of the wellness committee at St. Thomas University, said the bike share program that started in May this year was a success.
“It’s going very well, we’ve got really good feedback on the program.”
Fourteen users signed up between May and Nov. 18.
STU students, faculty and staff were able to buy a $20 membership that allowed them to borrow a bike for up to six hours or overnight if they borrowed it late in the day.
She said the program started slow, with only five memberships in mid-summer, but increased once students started returning to campus.
Olivia Long, a student who graduated this year, but has returned to take a few more courses, signed up in October.
“I only used it for a month, but I found it really useful,” said Long.
“Since I work at the gym I would take a bike at night and return it the next morning when I had school. It was really easy to just bike home.”
She said because she lives at the bottom of the hill, it was faster than waiting for the bus. In the morning she would use the bike racks on the front of the buses to come back up the hill.
Long said it has helped her save some money.
“I’m guilty for using cabs a lot, so it makes a lot more sense,” she said.
The $20 membership fee is used for maintenance of the bikes.
The St. Thomas University students’ union matched the $850 spent by the university to start the program. The money was used to buy five bikes, helmets and locks.
Hill said she wants to have a larger publicity campaign next year to attract more users.
The program is a result of the wellness committee looking “for more ways to encourage faculty, students and staff to be active, therefore healthier,” said Hill.
“People can run, walk, go to the fitness centre, go to [fitness] classes, so the program is one more option” to stay healthy, she added.
 The article got me thinking, "if STU can have a relatively successful bike share program compared to the campus' size and student population, could the City of Fredericton benefit from starting one of its own?" There are some issues concerning theft and vandalism in a city-wide bike share program. Some can be conquered through use of credit cards- similar to the bixi program in Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver or controlled operations monitored by Fredericton's Trail Visitor Information Centre.

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