UNI opens up affordable bike rentals to all

Starting in 2014 in a capstone class at UNI, students created the bike share program. The students saw a need for a more sustainable campus and a use for the extra bikes that would remain on campus grounds after the semester was over.

Fast forward four years later, and the program has grown tremendously. There are now over 40 bikes that UNI owns to rent out to students for the low cost of $40 per semester. However, a new addition to the program is a free, three-hour rental service through the Rod Library.

These purple and gold bikes started with the intent of appealing to UNI alum members visiting campus during the warmer seasons, but it has spread into a larger audience who also desire a quick bike rental to take around the Cedar Valley.

Eric O’Brien, director of sustainability, runs and manages the bike share program at UNI. He has worked with the program throughout the years and has grown it into what it has become today.

“We were able to put together a grant application for the Pepsi Corporation, which was a national competition for college campuses across the country. We ended up being their winner in their transportation category. We put all that money toward getting 40 new bikes for our campus,” O’Brien said.

With these new bikes the program can rent to a larger audience and eventually lower the cost of semester rental for students.

With the short term, three-hour rental, one will receive a free rental along with a lock and head light if they are biking at night. They will only be charged if there is damage to the bike.

“If you go over a curb and pop a wheel, that would be a charge, but if you were to go over a nail that is normal wear and tear on a bike, we would replace it for you free of charge,” O’Brien said.

In hopes of the program growing, O’Brien said the bikes will be available for short term rent to community members through the summer.

“We are doing the three-hour time period as an evaluation period to kind of see how many people from outside the UNI community are coming in and checking out a bike,” O’Brien said.

So O’Brien encourages all who find themselves on College Hill this month that if the bright purple and gold bike catches their eyes don’t miss out on the opportunity to rent bikes because it could give them a whole new perspective of the place UNI calls home.

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