As the first snowstorms hit Binghamton, the first phase of a free bike share program came to an end.
The pilot program, which lasted the month of November, recorded 40 different users logging 160 hours of ride time.
“The bikes were being used about two times a day, sometimes more and sometimes less – weather dependent,” wrote coordinator Shane Tracy, a sophomore majoring in industrial engineering, in an email. “Because we opened towards the end of the semester, the weather only hindered our program, but the bikes were still used during these times. As the weather gets warmer, I suspect that we will have a lot more usage.”
The bike share program was originally part of Intellectual Decisions on Environmental Awareness Solutions (IDEAS), but has turned into a Student Association-chartered student service.
Organizers said the pilot program has taught them some important lessons.
“Maintenance is going to be needed on a regular basis,” Tracy wrote. “Six of the bike share members are enrolled in a bike maintenance course (395). When next semester rolls around, we plan to start a bike shop that is open to the public for a small fee (cheaper than most bike shops) located on the ground floor of the Old Union in between the Undergrounds and Munchies.”
Mike Stern, another organizer of the program, said that they are working on a better website for the program and a better method for signing up for bikes.
“We should have our own website running next semester where people can register and sign up for bikes ahead of time,” said Stern, a junior majoring in mechanical engineering.
Many riders who used the bikes said they are excited for the bike share’s expansion.
“The bikes ran really well; I have a bike at home and I actually found this one easier to use,” said Jon Mermelstein, a sophomore majoring in political science. “It’s pretty limited right now because there’s only one hub, but once they expand it, it should become pretty useful to get around campus.”
Allen He, a sophomore majoring in mechanical engineering, said that the bikes were better than those used for the Citi Bike rental program in New York City.
“For a free bike rental, these were amazing,” he said. “When the weather gets better, I’ll definitely use them again.”
He, like other riders, was concerned with the limited number of bikes available.
“I’m not sure I want other people to even know about this program,” He said. “If it gets too popular, I’m not sure I’ll be able to get a bike for myself.”
Tracy said the bike share would probably resume midway though spring semester.
“We are going to re-open next semester by at least April 1st, but would like to open as early as possible, weather dependent,” Tracy wrote.