This year, the Missouri Students Association has given students a new option for getting around campus. The Mizzou Bike Share program offers bicycle rental for no more than 24 hours for students to ride wherever they like, be it around campus, town or any of the Columbia area’s fantastic bike trails.
Though it’s still in its infancy, there are currently 20 bicycles in Mizzou Bike Share’s possession, and program co-creator Tyler Ricketts estimates there is a 90 percent usage rate. There’s no better way to prove it is effective and deserves expansion.
The program is currently being funded by money for new programs from MSA’s Department of Student Services, but this will run out after the school year ends. To ensure Mizzou Bike Share remains a long-term, viable transportation and recreation option for students, we feel MSA should move forward with making the program an auxiliary.
This will provide the program with the funds necessary to maintain and maybe even expand its fleet of bicycles and provide a consistent point of pride in MU’s expanding sustainability efforts. It will also give the program a permanent director, who could greatly help with publicizing this hidden gem 45 percent MU of students have never heard of, according to an MSA poll.
Mizzou Bike Share would be a beneficial addition to MSA’s commendable slate of auxiliaries — among them Tiger Pantry and STRIPES — but student leaders must be careful to avoid placing it above these auxiliaries, which have become remarkably successful and indispensable to student life. The money to fund Mizzou Bike Share, which would be part of next year’s MSA budget, must not come from large cuts to other programs.
As long as the switch to auxiliary status is done cautiously and realistically, which we expect MSA will do well, it would make Mizzou Bike Share a sustainable, inexpensive and tangible way to encourage healthy, low-impact student activity. Columbia has taken the initiative in recent years to become a much more bike-friendly town, and it makes perfect sense to us that students have the option to rent bicycles to ride here. We encourage MSA to move forward with the proposal and help this campus grow more active and pleasant.