Schools like Ripon College, located in Wisconsin, and the University of New England both offer freshmen free bikes in exchange for not bringing a car to college.
According to officials from the University of New England, during the first year of the free bike program only 25 percent of freshmen brought cars to college, a dramatic decrease from the 75 percent of freshmen that brought cars the previous year.
Other colleges offer free bike sharing or rental programs, or work with bike shops to give students a discount on purchasing bikes.
“We’re seeing an explosion in bike activity,” said Julian Dautremont-Smith, associate director of the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education. “It seems like every week we hear about a new bike sharing or bike rental program.”
The motive behind colleges and universities beginning such programs is reducing problems with parking and creating a “greener” and more physically healthy alternative.
Auburn does not currently have a bike sharing program on campus, but some students feel that needs to change.
“Bikes are expensive, especially for a thrifty college student, and a bike sharing program is also more sustainable because you’re sharing,” said Brittany Branyon, co-chair of the Auburn Sustainability Action Program and senior in political science. “I think it could catch on at Auburn, and we should give it a try.”
Schools like Emory University have a program where students can swipe their student ID’s at locations around campus and check out a bike, similar to checking out a book from the library.
Some students feel that a bike sharing program would allow some users to take advantage of the bikes and misuse them since they would be University owned.
“I don't think there would be an incentive to take care of the bikes since they aren't yours,” said Dane Pemberton, a senior in building science. “I think there are better programs we could invest money in.”
St. Xavier University in Chicago came up with a computer-driven solution to the problem.
Students wave their student ID’s over a docking port. This is usuallt attached to a rubber tube.
This tube serves as a lock and is opened by entering an access code.
GPS systems are attached to each bike so that the university can keep up with their location.
The entire system is solar powered, adding an extra “green” edge to the program.
Katie Downer, a junior in finance, agrees bike sharing would be overall beneficial to Auburn's campus but don't feel it would serve as a viable solution to the parking crisis.
“I think the program would be nice for people who don't have a car on campus to begin with, but I don't think any freshman would trade their car for a bike,” said Downer.