Happy New Year, cicliste di ogni varietà. May you and yours cover many, many miles on two wheels.
Returning to the topic of bike-sharing, Rocky Mountain News just ran an article on the Fort Collins Bike Library, which loans bikes for free for up to five days. What caught my attention was that the program is funded in large part by a $132,000, two-year grant from the Federal Highway Administration’s Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Program. The Bike Library is then responsible for pitching in another twenty-percent of operating costs. I want to know more about this and similar money, and about how those interested can get their hands on it. I think it’s great to see it going to areas that are already focused on bike infrastructure, but it would be exciting to see some flowing also to areas that haven’t yet given much thought to bikes.
The article also mentions opposition from Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK), who listed the Bike Library in his “Worst Waste of the Year” report, calling it a “low-priority and questionable” project. I appreciate the Senator’s concern about earmarks and wasteful spending. But how does that work when one is so happy to maintain the status quo with respect to oil consumption and emissions production? His slam on bicycles seems a little off target. Dave Kemp, who manages the program, “estimates that ‘about 2,000 people’ used the library’s bikes to the tune of 21,154 miles. Those people-powered miles were ‘equivalent to 9.7 metric tons of carbon dioxide not being released into the atmosphere.'” Yeah, how incredibly wasteful.
Here’s something else I find really cool about the program, something that has cropped up in a number of the campus bike-sharing programs I’ve looked into. The majority of the bikes in the Bike Library’s collection “are bikes that were abandoned, collected and then refurbished by a core of hard-core bicycle backers. And Fort Collins received a generous donation of 29 relatively new bikes that were used during the Democratic National Convention.” Nice.
The other day, I was looking up Fuji Bikes online, and one of the links in the search results brought me to Bike Emory, which is a project of “Fuji University.” Emory University’s bike program is absolutely phenomenal. It is, by far, one of the most complete and exciting campus bike-sharing programs I’ve profiled on this blog. Their website is loaded with information, much of which will be useful to riders far beyond the boundaries of Emory’s campus. The program offers students the opportunity to pre-order and purchase bikes that are then waiting for them, fully ready to ride, upon arrival on campus. They host mobile repair centers twice a week at two separate locations. And they offers seminars on a wide range of bike-related topics. Bike Emory focuses as much on the community around campus as it does on faculty, staff, and students.
One of the big keys to Bike Emory’s success, it seems to me, is the effort they appear to put into promotion. Of course, it helps that they’re backed by a major bicycle manufacturer. Nevertheless, one gets the impression that Bike Emory and those associated with it are committed, in a very fundamental way, to changing the face of the University and the surrounding area. This is not just another environmentally-friendly offering from the administration, nor is it an extension of the intramural sports program or campus life office. This is a sincere attempt to replace something most have taken to be a necessity with a real alternative that provides more to those who use it than one might imagine.