University implements bike sharing program

April 22, 2009 6:06:41 PM PDT
Wednesday is Earth Day.Across Chicago and the suburbs there were events and programs to promote more eco-friendly behavior.

One of them was at St. Xavier University. The school unveiled a program to try and get people to switch from four wheels to two.

Now, students and teachers at St. Xavier University on the far South Side can pedal from class to class instead of having to walk or drive.

The school unveiled its Green Bike Program on this Earth Day. And some students are eager to help the environment, while reducing their commute time on a campus that keeps growing.

"We have classes on 104th and Pulaski, and we have buildings on 111th Street. So you check them out with your Cougar card and just ride them over there instead of driving, having to worry about parking, having to worry about a meter," said Alexis Ware, student.

The school paid nearly $60,000 for 60 bikes, which are at several stations around campus. To rent them, students and faculty just swipe their ID cards, and unhook them from their docks. Renters can use them for as long as needed and return them to any dock.

For now, rental is free. In the fall, it will be free for the first 15 minutes, then 60 cents for every 15 minutes.

"For $2.40, you can take the bike an hour and go out to the retail and go shopping, and that's what we're trying to encourage; to get it out into the town instead of jumping in your car and going out," said Paul Matthews, St. Xavier University.

The bikes are provided by the French company Veloway, the same company that proposed bringing bike sharing to the city of Chicago nearly two years ago.

"There are myriad issues to be addressed; the size, the scope, how the fare implementation would work, liability issues, legal issues," said Brian Steele, Chicago Department of Transportation.

Steele says the city is still committed to bringing bike sharing to Chicago, possibly by next year.

Officials are looking to other cities like Paris to see how their programs are working out. In the meantime, they can also look to Saint Xavier which is breaking ground for being one of the first U.S. campuses to implement bike sharing.


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