Bike-lending pilot to launch this month in Bloomington

Apr. 10, 2014

Faculty, staff and students will soon have the opportunity to checkout a bicycle, for free, through a bike-lending program being piloted this summer at IU Bloomington.

Refurbishing bike

Volunteer Kaleb McCain works on one of the bikes that will be a part of IU's new bike-lending program. | Photo By Henri Venable

“Crimson Cruisers,” modeled after a bike lending program at the University of Kentucky, will provide free bikes to faculty, staff or students for commutes to and from campus and around campus for one semester at a time.

“I'm incredibly excited about this program,” said Henri Venable, a graduate student in the IU School of Public and Environmental Affairs and intern with the IU Office of Sustainability, who helped organize the program. “I want Crimson Cruisers to be successful, to grow and to mature. Imagine a time in the future with waves of crimson bikes rolling all over downtown and campus. What a colorful and wonderful world that would be.”

Interested faculty, staff and students can fill out an application online that includes information on how the bike will be used (home-to-campus commutes will be given higher priority than on-campus only use, for example); organizers will select a group of 12 students, faculty and staff for the initial program. Helmets, locks, lights and a one-hour training course will also be provided to participants.

Participants for the pilot program will be selected this month. The program continues through the beginning of August and will feature 12 bikes that were refurbished after being impounded by IU Parking Operations.

Each rider will be responsible for returning the bike in good condition. Outdoor Adventures will provide free, basic tune-ups for the bikes during the semesters as needed. Riders will be responsible for the costs of replacement parts and additional repairs that may be needed during or at the end of the rental period.

If the summer program launch is successful, the program will continue again in the fall with a new application process. Those participating in the summer program may also apply for the fall semester.

The idea to increase alternative modes of transportation at IU Bloomington, including a possible bike-lending program, has been in discussion for the past few years.


One of the bikes that will be a part of the new bike-lending program. | Photo By Henri Venable

A survey conducted in 2012 that became part of the campus’ Transportation Demand Management Plan, showed 71 percent of IU Bloomington employees drive alone to campus. Another 11 percent carpool or are dropped off, five percent bike, five percent walk, four percent use Bloomington Transit and the remaining either use Campus Bus or marked other.

As for students who live off of campus, the survey showed 24 percent walk, 23 percent drive alone to campus, 19 percent use Bloomington Transit, 10 percent use Campus Bus, 10 percent carpool or are dropped off, eight percent marked other and six percent bike.

Organizers hope to gradually turn those numbers around, in part, through the new program.

“That’s what we want the program to lead toward: reducing congestion, increasing other modes of transportation, and increasing the healthy alternatives available to faculty, staff and students,” said Dustin Smucker, leisure programs coordinator for IU Outdoor Adventures, which will serve as the rental and maintenance center for the bikes.

With so many campus departments and individuals involved with the program, -- including Parking Operations, Outdoor Adventures, the IU Office of Sustainability, Graduate and Professional Student Organization, the City of Bloomington and the Bloomington Community Bike Project -- Venable said he is hopeful the program will be a success at IU Bloomington and eventually lead to a different attitude about transportation to and on campus.

“Crimson Cruisers has massive potential to instigate a sustainable change and effect a perceptual shift about transportation options within the community,” Venable said.

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