Free bike rental system to come to campus


Students and Greencastle members will soon have access to a more eco-friendly way of transportation - by bike.
"Over a year ago, some students in the Management Fellows Capstone course got the idea that it would be a service to both DePauw and to the community to create a bike-sharing program," said Dr. Carol Steele, director for sustainability at DePauw.
Thanks to them and their benefactors, 20 bikes for the use of DePauw students and members of the Greencastle community will be introduced by the end of September.
Past Management Fellows Julia Mathews, Colby Mueller, Hunter Schouweiler, Trent Wood and later Maggy McDaniel, Morgan Hooks and Megan Myrehn brought their Capstone project idea from hypothetical to actual.
"This is a Management Fellows project," said Economics and Management Professor Gary Lemon. "One of the requirements in the course is to come up with ideas of how we can better integrate DePauw with the community. This is one of the projects that students came up with - a community bike program."
Students can use these bikes to travel to classes, buy groceries and enjoy the People Pathways.
"We want students to use them all the time," Lemon said. "I see bikes all over the place. When I see students on bike trails and in nature parks, or taking them to Prindle, it's a wonderful opportunity for students to get out."
The bike system sounds appealing to students for many different reasons.
"You don't have to store them, and it saves money," said freshman Xin Zhou, who would use her rented bike to go to Kroger. "It provides convenience for students who don't have cars. Someone can rent a bicycle and exercise or go to the nature park."
Steele appealed to the environmental aspect of bicycling.
"Beyond an obvious connection to try to make this something available to students, faculty and staff who need bikes...we want to say that riding bikes is healthful and encourages people to be doing that rather than driving their cars for small distances," Steele said.
The program also targets members of the Greencastle community.
"[Some] people that we hope will use the bikes are visitors at the Inn at DePauw who might like to see either the campus or some more of the community," Steel said. "We have beautiful scenery here, and people can use the bikes to just ride around town and see what Greencastle is like off the campus, and, of course, there's the wonderful system of People Pathways around Greencastle in Putnam County that are worth seeing."
Registration for rental of these bikes is at the Inn at DePauw - a credit card is required at registration so borrowers can be held liable for damage costs. The program is at a standstill while a secure system to keep credit card information is being sought out. After that, students and community members alike can request a key to a bike for 24 hours or longer after renewal. Bikes are available at either the Inn or the Public Safety office.
Rental itself is free, and bikes can be picked up 24/7. However, the bikes will be stored during winter for bike maintenance and the safety of renters.
DePauw's Office for Sustainability will be managing the program.
"They're going to help make sure that the bikes are maintained and in good order hopefully for years," Lemon said.
"We're very excited to be able to have the program and are very appreciative of Management Fellows who had the vision and the enthusiasm to make it real," Steele said.
As innovative as this concept is and as challenging as it was to execute, this isn't DePauw's first effort at a bike-sharing program.
A primitive version was in use about six years ago, but it didn't hold anybody responsible for the damage of the bikes. This program only lasted two years.
"The problems that ensued were people banged up bikes, didn't take good care of them and would leave them in odd places like under bushes or in their apartments," Steele said. "No one had responsibility to make certain that we still had the bikes and that they were still in good condition."
The current program holds people financially responsible as well as accountable for the location of the bike with the 24-hour rental period and the fact that the bikes are locked.
"In the past program, we didn't know where bikes were or who had them, and they got trashed," Lemon said. "We're hoping to avoid that catastrophe."
This time around, the project's outcome owes much of its success to more careful management as well as cooperation from all facets of the community.
"This is a joint effort of DePauw University students and the community," said Lemon. "The bikes are not only open to students but to everyone in the community. We're hoping to see a lot of people on bikes."