Profile: Duke Bikes (Duke University)

The motto for Duke Bikes is “Healthy Bodies. Healthy Planet.” Right on. Now we’re talking. The website describes the program as a

“partnership between Duke students and university departments to provide undergraduate, graduate and professional students with no-cost options for exercise, adventure and campus commuting. This collaborative effort also provides a tangible example of several of Duke’s efforts to promote sustainability, alternative transportation and health.”

A video on the website features a clip of the provost riding one of the bikes and talking about the program’s role in promoting community. The FAQ page not only provides a wealth of useful information, but also conveys a sense of excitement and opportunity to interested parties. For example, there are links to information on local bike laws, route maps, and the Duke Bike Advocates website.

Duke Bikes follows a lending library model. Bikes have to be checked out and checked in during set business hours, Monday through Friday, but the loan period is seven days, and renewals can be made online. (You even receive an email reminder when the bike is almost due.) A variety of bike types are available (e.g., single- and three-speed cruisers, mountain bikes, and hybrids). All bikes come equipped with lights and flashers (some even include baskets), and are issued with a helmet and lock.

I could go on and on about the Duke Bikes setup; it’s fantastic. But I think the best aspect of the program is that rentals are processed using student ID cards. The card still has to be swiped by a staff person. But it significantly minimizes the gap that frequently exists between bicycles and everyday life, and so represents a strong step toward recognizing bikes as a noble and viable mode of regular transportation. Moreover, it’s a great way to ensure the equipment is protected against damage or loss.

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