Dustin Steinhoff, News Editor
University of Missouri–St. Louis students may be able to take advantage of bike sharing programs from a company such as Lime or Bird on campus as soon as 2019.
Private companies such as Lime and Bird have rolled out dockless bike-share programs, where bikes are equipped with GPS technology and feature a self-locking mechanism on the back wheel, across the country. The mobility devices are “shared” by the public for short-term use for “first mile and last mile” trips. As their popularity has increased greatly over the course of a few years, the Office of Sustainability is looking to bring a program like this to the UMSL campus.
“Here at UMSL, the Sustainability Office is currently exploring a variety of bike-share operators and soliciting the feedback of students, numerous campus departments, and other regional universities with bike-share programs of their own,” UMSL Sustainability 3 R’s Specialist Eliza Murray said.
The Sustainability Office has been using the term “Bike-Share” to describe their proposed transportation plans on campus, however students would also have access to multiple shared-use mobility options, including both scooters and bikes. The Sustainability Office said there is even a possibly for e-bikes.
Once the university decides on which bike-share company to utilize, bikes and/or scooters will be provided by the bike-share operator for a fee to be paid by the student. Prices typically range from $1 to $2 per half-hour, however the Sustainability Office is still researching pricing options. Some companies like Lime even offer students an additional discount if they use an .edu email address, which every UMSL student is provided at enrollment.
In order to operate a bike or scooter, students will have to download the bike-share application for the university’s bike-share company in order to locate an available bike or scooter. The student will then pay a fee to unlock the bike and return the bike or scooter to a designated bike rack once the trip is complete.
Proponents of bike-sharing programs often mention the environmental benefits of bike-sharing such as reducing congestion, air pollution, fuel consumption and reliance on nonrenewable resources. These programs can also have positive effects on us as individuals.
“Spending more time outside and engaging in physical activity have positive impacts on our social and mental well-being too,” Murray said.
The Sustainability Office’s goal is to help make UMSL a more environmentally friendly campus while providing students another choice of transportation.
“Hopefully, students’ utilization of the bike-share program will encourage less reliance on automobiles, especially to navigate between campuses or from the parking garages to academic buildings,” Murray said.
According to Murray, the number one cause of greenhouse gas emissions at UMSL is single-occupancy vehicles, a side-effect of having a large commuter student population. The Sustainability Office hopes to alleviate that negative environmental aspect of being a commuter campus by reducing the short trips students take around campus in their vehicles.
“These bike-share options will definitely help people with that very last step in their commute once they get to campus, and may even help people reconsider their entire commute altogether,” Murray said.
The Sustainability Office hopes this program can serve as a steppingstone to using other alternative means to get to campus, such as using the Metro or by carpooling with fellow students.
“Either way, a bike-share program will also offer students more options, and the chance to engage with sustainability initiatives, so that helps create a culture of awareness and environmental ethic here on campus,” Murray said.