MSA, RHA launch free Bike Share program for students

Students can check out the bikes at the MU Student Center.
MSA Affairs Committee Chairman Tyler Ricketts was the first to speak at the MU Bike Share commencement ceremony Monday in front of the MU Student Center. Ricketts played a key role in the creation of the program, which has been in the works since September 2011.

The Missouri Students Association and the Residence Halls Association officially launched their anticipated MU Bike Share program on Monday.

The bikes are available for students to rent free of charge for any period no more than 24 hours.

In order to rent, students must go to the Student Information Center in the MU Student Center, swipe their ID and sign a liability waiver and membership form valid for one semester. Afterward, students will receive a key to a specific bike and will be ready to ride.

When not in use, the bikes are parked in a rack outside the MU Student Center.

“Bike Share provides convenient and sustainable transportation for all students,” MSA Communications Director Zach Toombs said. “It’s a service that’s easy to use.”

The only requirement is that students bring back the bikes in the same condition they received them.

“You are not limited to what you want to do with (the bike) or where you take it,” MSA Board of Elections Chairman Tyler Ricketts said.

Ricketts said he thought the program would simplify many students’ lives — it will help those who need to go long distances, those who enjoy biking and those who could not afford to buy or bring their own bikes.

Ninety percent of students wanted a bike-sharing program, according to an MSA study conducted in April 2011.

“This is something the students wanted to see,” MSA President Xavier Billingsley said at the launch event. “Seeing all the bikes shows how powerful the student voice is.”

The idea of a bike-sharing program has been tossed around for about 15 years, but until Fall 2011, nothing was planned. That changed when MSA and RHA decided to make the idea a reality.

“We started with what we wanted the program to look like,” Ricketts said.

Ricketts spearheaded the Bike Share program during his time as Student Affairs chairman in MSA Senate. He and others from MSA and RHA originally thought of buying used bikes but bought new ones to avoid maintenance issues.

The 20 bikes available for checkout were purchased from Worksman Cycles in New York City and cost approximately $500 per bike. The start-up cost was approximately $10,000, Ricketts said.

The Environmental Leadership Office, Office of Student Affairs, Student Fee Capital Improvement Committee and Missouri Student Unions provided additional funding.

Coordinators of Bike Share said they see the program not only as means of easy transportation, but also as a beginning to an environmentally friendly campus.

“We hope Bike Share will exceed expectations, and we’ll see a greener campus,” MU Assistant Vice Chancellor Jeff Zeilenga said at the Bike Share launch.

Others said they also hope the program will create a long-term healthy lifestyle for students.

“(Bike Share) is a great idea because what a university does is prepare students for the future,” RHA Sustainability Coordinator James Jordan said. “Bike Share does just that with its sustainable ideas and values.”

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