Bike share program launched

JANUARY 26, 2015 1:33 PM

Students can now check out bikes for 24 hours at a time. The bikes, pictured here, are available for checkout at the Waterfront’s Boat House

Everyone has places to go and people to see, but not everyone has the means to get there. For USF St. Petersburg students, the means have arrived.

Bike-A-Bull, an on-campus bike-share program, officially opened for operation Jan. 14. Students only need their university ID to rent a bike for 24 hours. After receiving a list of traffic laws and signing an agreement waiver, students are assigned a Sea Wind beach cruiser and given two lights, a helmet and a lock (with the option of a basket).

This pilot program, consisting of only a few bikes, has already begun to receive some buzz.

“I think it’s amazing; it’s a great opportunity for students who don’t have cars,” said Lillie Wiszniewski, a sophomore who lives on campus. Wiszniewski can’t afford to purchase her own bike, so the bike-share program is a great option.

Observation of other programs, such as USF Tampa’s Share- A- Bull Bikes and Eckerd College’s Yellow Bike Program became models for the project at USFSP. The campus’ unique layout made concerns of safety, storage and maintenance a priority.

“Before the program started, there was student interest in increasing that connection with downtown and not being limited to as far as you could or would want to walk,” said Zac Oppenheim, assistant director of student life and engagement. “It was that feedback of what students actually wanted to do with the bikes, that we could build the full experience.”

This program, enduring the change of directors, student government politics, and the search for a reliable and accessible bike company, set the program back for some time. Alyssa Winston, the current director of sustainable initiatives, said this project has been in the works for several years.

“There was an issue that the money ran out because of the end of the fiscal year,” Winston said. “So we’ve had to start over for a long time.”

The bikes are purchased from and maintained by ABC Bicycles, and regulated by Campus Recreations. The Waterfront boathouse staff manages the sharing process.

“It’s about sustainability, creating a carbon copy footprint,” said Aaron Wasserman, a campus recreation student employee, who is heavily involved with the on-campus maintenance of the bikes.

This gives students a transportation option when pursuing internships, jobs or the downtown area.

Both Oppenheim and Wasserman said that it is too early to tell what the future holds for Bike-A-Bull. Some ideas include adding more bikes and using them for a bike club or educational purposes. But the hope begins with students taking an interest and giving feedback. So Oppenheim encourages everyone to “swing by, check out the bikes, talk with the staff and maybe even go for a ride.”

The Bike-A-Bull project now joins a list of other programs that benefit students without transportation, including the car-share program, WeCar by Enterprise and the U-Pass program, where USFSP students ride the Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority (PTSA) busses for free.

Want to rent a bike? Stop by the Waterfront between the hours of 11 a.m. and 5 p.m. Students have 24 hours to return the bikes after checkout.