International scholars take a seat in the Bike Share Program

Donley and Thomas plan to add another Bike Share location to campus during their term.
Bikes labeled with Mizzou Bike Share stickers sit outside the MU Student Center on Sept. 1, 2015, at bike racks made for the program’s bikes in Columbia, Mo.

A week after the three-year anniversary of the Bike Share Program, the organization celebrates another milestone: international scholars can now check out bikes through the Asian Affairs Center.

Those individuals were previously unable to check out bikes via the Student Center because of a complication with their student IDs.

“Students can check out bikes for free, so it is a nice way to get around campus,” said Amy Eultgen, the Environmental Leadership Office advisor.

Five bikes are currently at the international scholars’ disposal, and students can work with the AAC to decide the duration of a rental. Since international scholars attend the university for about two months, they may check out bikes for multiple days, Eultgen said.

The Bike Share Program has a fleet of 20 bikes, and is available for undergraduate and graduate students. Students can check out the bikes for one day through the Student Center main information desk from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. Mondays to Saturdays, and 9 a.m. to 11 p.m. on Sundays.

“It introduces students to an alternative form of transportation,” Eultgen said.

Rather than spending money on gas and car insurance, bikers can arrive at the same destination for free, while encountering less traffic along the way, Eultgen said.

“Not only is (Bike Share) friendly for the environment, but being able to use a bike all day is so much more efficient,” Residence Halls Association Vice President Rachel Thomas said. “Plus, it promotes exercise, and it’s just a great way to get places quickly.”

The student organizations involved had to overcome the university identification system in order to achieve this recent victory.

“Since (international scholars) are only here for a certain amount of time, they don’t have a student ID number attached to their name, so our system wasn’t able to recognize them if they were to swipe their student ID,” Eultgen said.

Usually, an undergraduate or graduate student shows their student ID at the Student Center information desk, signs the liability waiver and agreement, and then receives the key to their bike lock. However, international scholars were not able to complete the above steps because their student IDs did not register.

“As we saw the demand increase, that’s when we decided to take action,” Eultgen said. “We worked really closely with the staff over in the AAC to adjust our waiver and agreement so that it would cater to their students as well.”

Thus, like with any challenge, the ELO, AAC, RHA and others put their spokes together and wheeled right over the obstacle.

“During our campaign (for RHA), we were looking for ways to become more involved with the International Student Council on campus,” RHA President Billy Donley said.

A component of Donley and Thomas’ platform was to expand the Bike Share program further, helping international and local students to navigate the university. The team plans to add another Bike Share location to campus during their term.

“We wanted, originally, to have (Bike Share) at every single residence hall,” Donley said, “Then, the conversation switched towards, ‘Well why don’t we focus on major areas, like the Bingham area, the Mark Twain and McDavid area, and the Hawthorn, Galena and Dogwood area.”

The Donley-Thomas pair is already gathering a committee of sustainability leaders from around MU to begin the planning process.

“There are so many factors that go into this kind of project, and that’s why we have to create a committee and partner with so many people in order to get this project going,” Thomas said.

Organizations like Surplus Property and GetAbout Columbia have already provided their equipment, including bikes and bike lights, to assist with Bike Share’s recent addition of international scholars.

“There are so many (students) that don’t have bikes who could really benefit from them,” Thomas said, “RHA thinks it’s a great program, and we’d love to see it continue to expand.”

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