Ohio University students will soon be able to participate in a bike-sharing program on campus.
Landen Lama, president of OU Student Senate, is leading the process and hopes to have a bike company picked out by the time he graduates in May. Although Student Senate has been working to get the program up and running for about three years, senate is still fielding offers from different bike companies.
Lama is coordinating with the university to pick a bike company, choose locations for the bikes and figure out what the program may cost participating students.
“It’s going to really connect everyone with the campus,” Lama said.
The bike program will help the university reduce its carbon footprint. The program is supposed to make students less dependent on cars, Lama said. It would give both students and Athens residents a sustainable way to navigate the area.
A goal of Lama’s is to allow students to easily ride from West Green to South Green. According to a survey Student Senate conducted, students want the bike stations all over campus. The results of that survey will be forwarded to the university. Lama is advocating for the university to use the bike racks already on campus as opposed to having a specific station for them.
Some students wouldn’t have a use for the bike program because they already bring their own bikes to campus.
“I probably wouldn’t use it because I was going to bring my bike down next year,” Lexi Hadamuscin, a freshman studying child and family studies, said. "I feel like at OU, there aren’t many places you can bike besides the bike path. But I have never had that urge to go on the bike path."
Seventy-eight percent of students surveyed said they would participate in a free bike-sharing program. That number drops to 47 percent if students had to pay a small fee for the program. Lama did not want students to have to pay for the bike program, but that is most likely not a possibility.
“There are a couple reasons why we are probably not going to be able to allow the university to front the bill: budget situations and if we are going to let the city do it, how are we going to ensure that city people pay for it,” Lama said. "It’s not only going to be a student service; it’s also going to be an Athens County service."
Matthew McGushin, an employee of Black Diamond Bicycles at 11325 Jackson Drive, thinks this new program will have little to no effect on the business’s sales.
“We get a lot of people specifically coming out to do the bike path and a lot of people from out of town. We see people from Parkersburg, people from West Virginia,” McGushin said. “I can’t imagine that if campus does this, that it would affect our business too much. Being outside of town, we don’t usually get the student foot traffic like the in-town bike shops do.”
Students can take out free bikes from Athens County Public Libraries, but the bike-sharing program would differ from the library program in size and reach.
“We would have far more bikes, and it would be easily accessible to students,” Lama said.