Incoming RHA leadership prioritizes expansion of Bike Share Program

Expansion of the program could include additional locations around campus.
The Mizzou Bike Share rack is located on the north side of the MU Student Center. Students are able to check out free bikes for the day at the Student Center information desk with a valid student ID.

Expanding the Environmental Leadership Office’s Bike Share program is one of the goals of the 2015-16 Residence Halls Association President Billy Donley and Vice President Rachel Thomas.

Currently, the Bike Share program is only located in the MU Student Center. Twenty bikes are available for students to check out with a valid MU student ID for a maximum of one day. The program has well over 1,000 users, Environmental Leadership Office adviser Amy Eultgen said.

Donley and Thomas said they would like to see the program expanded either to all residence halls or to main locations on the far ends of campus, in order to provide easy accessibility to anyone who lives on campus. Main locations could include Bingham Commons, Pershing Hall, an area near Mark Twain and McDavid residence halls and an area near Pavilion at Dobbs, Donley said.

“By the time that (students) do get to the Student Center, they’re already halfway to their class or they’re already at their class, so we want to give them more incentive to use the program,” Thomas said.

The first step is to gauge student interest. Donley and Thomas are meeting next week with ELO to develop a survey to send out to students, Thomas said. If the majority of students are interested in the program’s expansion, the next step would be to develop a more detailed plan as to how to accomplish their goals.

“Improvement-wise, we would obviously have to purchase more bikes,” Eultgen said. “There would just be a lot to discuss on where those would be housed, who would be looking over those as far as the checkout process and what kind of partnership we would need for that. There’s just a lot of things to work out.”

Survey results will help them determine how many more bikes to purchase and where to put them, Eultgen said.

Thomas said ELO would also need to hire more employees, which warrants additional funding.

The Missouri Students Association has given the Bike Share program $1,350 for student salaries and $1,250 for supplies, a total of $2,600, over the last three fiscal years.

ELO will be unable to request more money from MSA until June of 2016 since MSA Senate has already passed the budget for the 2015 fiscal year. If they wanted to receive more funding this year, they would have to submit a proposal and justify the increase during a meeting, MSA Budget chairman Bill Vega said.

“We’ve been having to prioritize (MSA’s funds) recently because we haven’t had any excess amount of revenue just laying around,” he said. “So, depending on how much of a priority it is and how much RHA is backing them, then it might help.”

Donley said he hopes this expansion could potentially reduce the amount of students on the road.

“Students who live in the residence halls, I know that they’re not driving (to class) anyway,” he said. “But with the expansion of the Bike Share program … then I would hope to see less driving from the off-campus students (while they’re) on campus.”

Eultgen said she hopes this possible expansion will encourage students to use bikes not only on campus, but throughout the Columbia area.

“It can open their eyes on how they can commute around town,” she said. “Columbia is a really good city for cycling.”

Along with the positive environmental effects stemming from fewer cars on the road, Thomas said students who utilize the Bike Share program could see health benefits, as well.

“It’ll also promote a lot of good physical activity, and it will also start, hopefully, a habit for a lot of people on the college campus that they can take with them in their life afterwards,” Thomas said.

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