Bike Hubs

In the course of reading about college and university bike-sharing programs, I’ve been thinking a bit about what schools could do to encourage students, staff, and faculty not only to bike around campus once they’re on site, but also ride to campus on bikes of their own.

I just read an article by Clare Mellor in the Chronicle Herald (Halifax, Nova Scotia) talking about “Building a Bike Hub.” This is an issue that typically comes up in discussions of either employers making provisions for bike-commuting employees, or cities exploring the possibility of building better bicycling infrastructure. But this is something that should be central to discussions of bikes on campus also, especially because it seems like such a viable, low-cost, and reasonably simple option to implement.

Ideally, a campus bike hub would be located either near the center of campus or perhaps near the gym (the latter allowing for easy access to locker rooms and showers). Hubs should be well-lit and offer some protection from the elements. They would provide racks, lockers (either full bike lockers, or else airport/bowling alley type lockers for locking up helmets and other gear), and perhaps even an air pump. Finally, in the best of circumstances, hubs would somehow connect in useful ways to things like bus stops, bike paths, streets with designated bike lanes, or other safe routes to and from campus. The whole point is providing riders with added incentive to ride by alleviating the barriers (i.e., tapping into those individuals who are already interested in riding but who have been hesitant to do so on account of feeling unsafe, or being worried about what to do with their gear).

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2 responses to “Bike Hubs

  1. AustinBikeBlog

    That sounds fantastic. Ideally, things like this need some sort of framework or, I don’t know, a “kit” of some sort, to get done really successfully. Seems like there’s an opening for an organization that can help you do this from start to finish, i.e. the initial push and messaging, working with the “system” (whatever bureaucracy you’re facing), and onwards to implementation.

    Maybe that’s one thing the current crop of bicycle and transit-related non-profits have yet to do, at least not well.

  2. The Village Scribe

    Thanks for the comment. Some of the ideas here were inspired by an article I read a month or two ago about a guy who owns a lot of apartments near a college campus, nearly all of which he rents to students. He noticed that, despite being located very close to campus, students would still drive their cars to class, often parking just as far away. So he started setting up bike garages on each property. The garages provide tenants with bike storage (each unit holding up to a couple of dozen bikes or so), light and heat, basic tools, air pumps, and posters illustrating common bike maintenance tasks and providing information.

    I like the idea of a “kit” and of working with an outside organization who could plan, customize, and implement hubs like this in one fell swoop for interested campuses. I’m going to think some more about that and maybe even bounce it off some of the groups you mentioned.

    By the way, I read austinbikeblog quite regularly. I totally dig all the great stuff you’ve got going on over there.