Stony Brook University, in collaboration with the Environmental Stewardship, is upgrading its bike share program to promote a healthier and more environmentally-friendly mode of transportation on campus.
The program will be unveiled in March at a ribbon-cutting ceremony and is designed to reduce student reliance on bussing and driving, which are criticized for the amount of fossil fuels they use up. In preparation, four bike stations have already been constructed with two at the Student Activities Center, one outside West Apartments and one located in the South P-lot. Traditional S-channel bike racks will remain on campus.
“One major goal with the whole system is our community legislatures using bikes instead of getting on buses or in the car,” said James O’Connor, director of sustainability and transportation operations. “Maybe we don’t have to exploit transit services…we wouldn’t need to increase our carbon footprint. Maybe we can reduce it.”
Originally started in April 2011 under Senior Vice-President Barbara Chernow of the administration and former executive Amy Provenzano of the environmental stewardship, the idea came from the same program’s application in cities such as New York and Toronto. The updated version will start out with fifty bicycles made out of strong and sturdy material, with a gradual increase the number of bikes and stations over time.
Students may rent a bicycle for one hour, free of charge, by sliding their SBU IDs in to a slot in the bike rack. They are then allowed to ride them both on- and off-campus. When a student is finished, he or she can lock the bike by placing it back in one of the racks. Though the program does not offer helmets, it does encourage students to wear them. The use of helmets is optional according to New York State law.
“I would like to see the bike share program grow and like to see it become successful,” said James Ambroise, site manager of transportation and parking. “And ultimately make students and the community more aware of a more sustainable mode of transportation on-campus.”
After the first hour, students will be charged $2 to their accounts for every hour they use the bike. The fee increases to $8 for five hours, $32 for 24 hours and $64 for three days. After the three-day period, the bike will be considered lost, and the student will have to pay a $1,150 fee.
Faculty, staff and visitors may also take part in the program through a subscription plan of $4 daily, $14 weekly, $28 monthly and $84 for nine months. The program will be unavailable to everyone over the winter break when the bikes will be stored away.
Some students though feel the fee is unnecessary and unfair and feel that, at the very least, students should be exempt from paying it. “Nobody really wants to pay for a bike rack when you can chain it against the wall,” said David Wong, a junior sociology major. “I feel like if it wasn’t free, it was a poor investment choice because everyone knows that college students are broke.”
O’Connor and Ambroise feel that the program has the potential to decrease the number of on-campus buses and the transit fee that is part of Stony Brook tuition. Some students though disagree and say they feel that while the program would be a good addition, it would have little impact on the environment or mode of transportation.
“The environment. No,” said Sayid Yasin, a sophomore health science major. “The buses will still run. And it’s not like many people will actually drive to their classes. They will take the bus. This is just another mode of transportation.”