Plans progress for bike rental center on campus

No date or location has been set for the center's opening.

Within the Sustainability Office, plans for the creation of a resource center for renting bikes and tools for repairing them have reached a developmental phase.

Sustainability adviser Ben Datema said the project has been in his mind for the past five years but the steps to making it a reality started in the fall of last year.

“We’ve been investigating similar programs at other universities for several months to figure out the best practice,” Datema said. “We’ve been in contact with some student groups and individuals who have expressed interest in the program as well as PedNet.”

Other groups he has discussed the program with include the Bike Subcommittee of the MU Transportation Committee and the Environmental Affairs Committee.

Student Sustainability Representative Kevin Petersen said since the first talks about the program started last year, he and Datema have discussed other additions to the program. Peterson’s involvement in the planning has also included looking at different bike policies and creating the initial development of the policies for the bike resource center.

“The original idea was for it to be a bike rental program, but when we looked at other schools and their bike programs, many ideas came up such as the co-op program, which is a program to share tools to fix bikes,” Petersen said.

Datema said issues such as the rental fee and membership fee are not set in place yet. The tools will either be purchased online or from local bike shops. The number of bikes to be rented out is uncertain.

“We plan to start small and build up and we want to make sure our system works well before we scale it up significantly,” he said. “One of the benefits of this program is that it can be nearly any size and still work well. We’re still discussing the number of bikes we would like to start the program with.”

There has not been a set place for the headquarters of the bike resource center, but Datema said there are some potential locations.

“We have to look into a variety of issues for this to be the case,” he said. “The Sustainability Office will likely be the administrative hub, but it is against university policy to have bikes in office spaces, thus the office will not house the bikes themselves. This is one of many issues we need to address before we move forward.”

The total cost of the program is uncertain, Petersen said, but Datema has said the main financier is the Student Fee Capital Improvement Committee. Petersen said the initial plan was for the bike resource center to be open for the upcoming fall semester, but meetings with other groups for the approval of the program has pushed back the opening indefinitely.

“I will be happy if anything, even if on the small scale, becomes open to the public,” Petersen said.

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