Despite flaws, bike share would benefit students
Who spends $1,320 on a bike? Apparently, ASMSU does. But don’t go into a rage yet — there’s a good reason behind it.
ASMSU, MSU’s undergraduate student government, currently is awaiting approval from Residence Education and Housing Services, or REHS, on a bike share program that would cost $52,800, not including advertising fees.
Unless ASMSU plans on purchasing tandem bikes, that’s a lot of money to fork over. Although the ding of cash registers might overwhelm the sound of bike bells, ultimately the cost is worth the potential benefits.
ASMSU plans on offering memberships to students and faculty and to offer hourly rates for non-student members of the community. For students, a yearlong pass would cost $50, equal to the price paid for a semester CATA bus pass.
ASMSU plans to start this program through a company called Zagster, which would provide 40 unisex bikes complete with headlights, rear lights, a chain guard and a bell.
To raise interest in the program, ASMSU plans on conducting surveys to gauge student interest in the amenity, as well as reaching out to incoming freshman to make them aware.
In theory, bike sharing would be a great addition to campus. Users wouldn’t have to worry about maintenance costs. Students who need a bike one or two days a week could access to one for $1 an hour without purchasing their own.
Additionally, students wouldn’t have to worry about toting a bike back to their dorm or apartment at the end of the day.
Having a centralized bike share program might actually decrease congestion on the bike racks.
Some big cities such as Chicago and New York have thriving bike share programs, which are a plus for tourists who don’t want to rent a car.
Having an efficient and cost-effective bike share program could positively impact the environment as well as students’ budgets.
Plus, the program would offer hourly rentals, a service the MSU Bikes rental program currently in place does not offer.
But since the program is just coming into its pilot stage, some kinks in the system can be expected.
To cover start-up costs, ASMSU would allow 1,000 students and staff to purchase memberships. That means one bike per 25 students.
Those tandem bikes don’t sound so silly now, do they?
Besides price, the bike share program raises logistics questions.
Realistically, how many students will pay $50 to use a bike that may or may not be available when they could just get a bus pass? Don’t students who need bikes just buy them anyway?
Every student organization has blunders, but ASMSU is on the right track with this idea, even with some major logistical problems to work out.
If representatives have the funds to diversify transportation options on campus, they should use it.
There are pros and cons with every major decision made by university groups, but in the long run, a bike share program could benefit students.
Hopefully REHS addresses the shortcomings of the plan and works with the undergraduate student government to devise a solution so ASMSU can put the pedal to the metal and let the bike sharing commence.