Over the past week, students have assembled 16 bicycles as part of Williams College’s new bike-sharing program, an initiative resulting in part from the Great Ideas campaign sponsored by College Council (CC).
Rachel Hudson ’10 said that although the end of the academic year is near, beginning the bike-sharing program this semester will hopefully pique student interest. “By starting [the bike-sharing program] this spring, we can get all the kinks out of the system,” Hudson said. “If there are any problems, we can work them out over the summer.”
CC funded the purchase of the bicycles and the key security system that will keep track of the individual keys for each bicycle. The security system is the large box mounted near the east entrance of Paresky. In order to borrow a bicycle, students will swipe their ID cards at the box. Students will receive a specific pin code used to request a specific bicycle, and will then receive the keys for the bicycle. Once students receive the keys, they are responsible for the bicycle. If a student loses one of the borrowed bicycles, he or she will be charged for the cost of the missing bicycle. The bicycles will be located at the bicycle racks outside Paresky when not in use.
CC approved the budget for the bike-sharing program this past Winter Study. Although the original proposal requested more than 16 bicycles, CC decided it would be best to start off with a smaller amount of bicycles and expand if necessary. The key security box can hold up to 48 keys, allowing for an additional 32 bicycles if students express great enough interest.
“[The bike-sharing program] will be good for students without access to bikes and for students who live far away, like someone who lives in Tyler but wants to visit a friend in Agard,” Hudson said. She noted that bikes may come in handy for off-campus trips as well, such as to the nearest pharmacy. “Students could bike to Rite Aid,” she said.
Student volunteers played an active role in the bike assembly process last week. Corey Watts ’10, who was involved in the assembly, agreed that the project is “helping people who don’t own a bike” and added that “distance isn’t an excuse anymore” for students who need to travel locally.
Ali Mitchell ’12 expressed concerns regarding bike theft on campus. “[The bike-sharing program] sounds like a great idea, though I am a little concerned about having these bikes being the sole responsibility of the student because of the unacceptable frequency with which bikes are stolen on campus,” she said.
But she added that the program will at least urge students to get active outdoors. “I think it would encourage students to use the trails around campus and Hopkins Forest,” she said. “I would engage in the community much more.”