What are the Issues?

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041 038     One of the issues in setting up a bike sharing program at UIUC is the preexisting infrastructure issues on campus. In certain areas there are not enough bike racks to support all cyclists wishing to park their bikes. This leads to cyclists parking their bikes in illegal or unsafe areas.

     Another issue is the placement of bike paths. Oftentimes cars or CUMTD buses cut into the bike paths, making a real danger for campus cyclists.

    Available bike racks are often in disrepair, forcing cyclists to find other means of parking their bikes as well as leaving the bike racks themselves in disuse.

Health is Wealth!

One of the biggest benefits of a bike-sharing program at UIUC would be the positive health impact on campus!

For instance, a study in Portland, Oregon–one of the greatest biking cities in the USA–finds that its current bicycling investments will save Oregon residents an overall total of $63 million healthcare costs by 2017! This isn’t exactly surprising as “[c]ountries with the highest levels of active transportation generally had the lowest obesity rates” and the Center for Disease Control finds that obesity is correlated with a whole host of health conditions:

  • coronary heart diseases
  • type 2 diabetes
  • various cancers
  • hypertension
  • liver and gallbladder diseases
  • sleep apneas
  • osteoarthritis

Appleton at road.cc discusses how bicycling is also relevant to mental wellbeing as “cyclists find their mode of transport at least as flexible and convenient as those who use cars, with lower stress and greater feelings of freedom, relaxation and excitement,” something we all need in a high-stress world!

Last, Lee from Livestrong finds that exercise directly correlates very well with academic achievement and concentration, and “may be linked to preventing a range of cognitive and neurological disorders, including Alzheimer’s disease and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD.” Well-planned bicycle-sharing programs will certainly encourage individuals to exercise more often; for example, bicycle-riding in Paris, France–which has one of the world’s largest and most successful bike-sharing programs–has since increased by an overwhelming 70% since the introduction of the Vélib bicycle-sharing program in 2007!

Because of all these figures, we predict that establishing a bike-sharing program at the University of Illinois will have a profound impact on both the health of students, faculty, and staff here.

Thanks for reading, and stay tuned for more!

Did You Know?

  • About 6,400 people die every year in Mexico City, while up to a million more develop breathing problems due to air pollution
  • In December 1952, fatal smog developed in London, killing 4,000 people and harming 8,000
  • People who live in high-pollution areas have a 20% higher risk of death from lung cancer than those who do not live in high-pollution areas
  • Air pollution from China has been found in central California
  • In California, air pollution causes more deaths than car crashes

What can we do about this?  Bike sharing is a great way to reduce air pollution by getting out of that car and getting onto that bike!  For example, in Portland, Oregon, their bike-sharing program prevents the release of 9,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide each year.  So support bike sharing, and save the planet too!

Sources: Random FactsEVs Roll

Where’s the Money At?

So how will this wonderful bike-sharing program be funded?  Well, we have a ton of ideas!

1.) Initial funding by the Student Sustainability Committee

All programs have to start somewhere, and the SSC at UIUC is a great place for funding the initial costs of a bike-sharing program! The SSC is a student panel that distributes about 1 million dollars from student tuition fees to various green project proposals present at the university, and if the bike-sharing proposal could get about a $300,000 grant–about how much the University of Wisconsin at Madison paid to start its bike-sharing program–it could be easily funded.

2.) A flat fee included in tuition

This is already something that is present at our university with the public busing system.  Every student has an extra charge added to their tuition in order to ride the CUMTD, or the Champaign-Urbana Mass Transit District, for free during the year.  However, because there are a lot of people who choose to bring their own bicycles to the university, having a required fee would be unfair to those people.  Therefore, if this solution is implemented, an option to opt out of this charge would be available

3.) Advertising on the bikes

This method has already been utilized in almost every bike-sharing program.  The hardest part is finding sponsors to have ads put on our bikes, but this would be an easy and simple way to generate a lot of revenue, and there are plenty of local on-campus restaurants as likely sponsors.  However, this cannot be the sole source of income.  Some possible partners that we have are the CUMTD and bike sharing companies such as B-Cycle or Nice ride to manage the entire program

4.) Hourly rate

Many universities that have a bike-sharing program and charge an hourly rate do not charge anything for the first half hour or hour.  After that, an hourly rate will be charged up to a certain amount of time, say two days or so.  After this time, unless there was a pre-existing agreement, the bike will be considered stolen and the student’s account will be charged for the cost of the bike.  This could be used for people who opted out of the tuition fee, but have one of those days where they just really need a bike, and our bike-sharing program will come to the rescue!  This hourly rate will be paid either by charging the amount to the student’s account, or can be bought with extra credits.  For those of you not at the University of Illinois, each student has the option to buy credits that can be used to pay for things such as laundry, cafeteria meals, etc.  It’s a pretty sweet deal!

Tl;dr.  Except hopefully not!  Hope everyone has a wonderful day and you stay tuned for another update about our proposal.

Proposed Bike-Sharing Kiosk Locations

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Proposed Bike-Sharing Kiosk Locations

This is a map with the tentative locations we would like to see bike-sharing kiosks set up at UIUC (click to view the full map)! We’re going for a more condensed system right now since those tend to be the most successful bike-sharing programs–nobody wants to go out of their way to get to their final destinations, and having frequent and convenient bike kiosks is one way to go!

  • Newmark Laboratories
  • Illini Union
  • Illinois Street Residence Halls (ISR)
  • Undergraduate Library (UGL)
  • Campus Recreation Center East (CRCE)
  • Sherman Hall
  • Student Dining and Residential Programs (SDRP)
  • Activities Recreation Center (ARC)
  • Pennsylvania or Florida Residence Halls (PAR/FAR)

We suggest that the program first start with movable bike stations, much like how it’s done in Paris’ Velib, or at least until the locations with the greatest need for shared bikes is identified.