Conquering campus

Getting around campus doesn't have to be complicated


5,200 acres.

That’s the size of MSU’s campus, and getting around can sometimes be a daunting task. Some students pinch pennies and walk no matter what, even in heavy snowfall. Others invest in bikes and U-locks, bus passes or parking passes.

And it’s not just going to class — after a night out on the town, it’s not always safe to get behind the wheel or walk home in the dark.

To park on campus, a moped must be registered in person at the MSU Parking Office at 1120 Red Cedar Road. If you live off campus, the registration fee is $98 for the 2014-2015-school year. For on campus residents, the registration fee increases to $121.

Registered mopeds can be parked at the bike racks if they are 50CC or below.

Jessalyn Tamez / The State News

Fortunately, students have plenty of options for navigating the vast landscape that is MSU.

Easy riders

One popular means of transportation across MSU’s campus involves two wheels and is powered by a chain and old-fashioned foot power — biking, which can shorten most on-campus commutes to no more than 10 or 15 minutes.

A new bike can range from $300-$400 at the MSU Bikes Services Center connected to Bessey Hall, while a used bike could range between $10 and $200, depending on the condition.

If a student doesn’t want to own a bike, the center also rents them out, with prices ranging from $20 to $90 depending on the length of time ranging from one week to the entire semester.

Another efficient measure that biking provides is that a student can leave on a moment’s notice.

“The biggest thing that bikes have over buses is that you don’t have to wait,” mechanical engineering junior Zach Tuller  said.

ASMSU, MSU’s student government, is also exploring a bike-sharing initiative, sharing costs with the Office of Campus Sustainability.

The original initiative passed by ASMSU last spring called for 40 rental bikes at 10 different locations on campus, but has been downsized to a smaller pilot program to feel out student interest, said ASMSU Vice President for Finance and Operations Greg Jackson.

“It’s a very small pilot program, hosted by REHS at Bailey Hall,” Jackson said. “Students can check out bikes at the front desk. It’s low-tech right now, very simple. We want to feel out if this is something students want or not.”

Soon, students will be able to sign a release and check out one of eight bikes at Bailey Hall, Jackson said. ASMSU hopes to get the program off the ground in the next two weeks.

“If it gets a good response, we’ll upgrade the service and maybe spread it throughout campus next year,” Jackson said.

Unsurprisingly, the busiest time for the Bikes Service Center is the beginning of the fall semester. As such it may take the center, which also repairs bikes for a charge depending on service time, upwards of two weeks to complete a repair. The center also provides free air for bike tires.

“If (the students) don’t have a bike, they want to buy a bike and, if they have a bike it’s broken,” Bikes Service Center manager Tim Potter said.

While business does slow down during the winter months, the shop stays open to cater for year-round bikers.

The center is run by MSU Bikes, a division of the MSU Office of Campus Sustainability, which promotes biking as a green alternative to less fuel-efficient means of transportation such as driving or riding the bus.

MSU is also deemed a “Bicycle Friendly University” with a bronze award from the League of American Bicyclists.

Many students wouldn’t mind walking, but some, like zoology junior Daniel Brothers, can’t help but acknowledge the time saved by biking.

“I prefer walking, but I bike because I live off campus,” he said. “It’s like a 15-minute bike ride from (the Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum) to my house, but walking it’s at least a half hour or more.”

Safety, of course, is also key, Potter said.

“Bicyclists should think of themselves more as a vehicle of the road and not a pedestrian,” Potter said.

Automobiles and buses

Before getting behind the wheel and driving around campus, students must have 20 credit hours at MSU. As a result, freshmen typically aren’t able to have a car at school their first year.

If a student doesn’t have a car but doesn’t want to brave the elements, hopping onto a CATA bus costs 60 cents per fare with student ID.

Students can also purchase a semester bus pass for $50, a 31-Day card for $16 or a 10-Ride card for $6 at almost every Sparty’s location on campus or at the Student Book Store on Grand River Avenue.

Buses can be essential for anyone who doesn’t own a car but may need to run errands outside of campus. Chances are, there’s a CATA bus route to any local business that might not be walking distance away, said agribusiness management freshman Kexin Guo.

“(Buses) are really convenient, and I can go everywhere I want, like downtown or around the school,” he said.

Hate having to wait for the bus to arrive? Students can sign up for “Rider Alerts” on CATA’s website to be alerted via email and/or text about temporary delays or detours.

Texting a bus stop number to 76123 can provide information about when the bus will depart that specific stop.

Taking a taxi

In the East Lansing area, there are 31  licensed taxicab companies to choose from. Traditionally, most MSU students have paid flat rates for cab rides. But that might be changing soon.

The East Lansing City Council is considering implementing a meter service inside taxi cars.

The meter would be similar to what is included in cabs in larger cities – a total cab fare determined by how far the car travels and how long during one trip.

East Lansing Mayor Nathan Triplett said during a previous city council meeting that the choice of what qualifies as a meter would be left up to the taxi authority.

“We want to require that technology be in our cabs but also leave it up to the authority so that they can figure out what is the list of appropriate options,” Triplett said during the meeting.

Another change in East Lansing cabs is seen in Uber, a new ride-sharing service currently running in Lansing and East Lansing, which allows drivers and riders to connect through a smartphone application.

But Uber does not require drivers to have their cars marked or obtain an appropriate chauffeur’s license.

Anyone could potentially become an Uber driver, which raises concerns among cab service owners.

Owner of Clark’s Cab LLC John Clark said he has read  cease and desist documents against Uber and that other cities no longer allow the company to operate.

“They’re brought in with open arms here, and that’s a slap in the face to (other cab driving companies),” Clark said.

Rolling around campus

Zoology senior Mason Mallory is glad his classes are closer this year, so he can take his longboard to class.

Biking is easier than longboarding, but Mallory said he enjoys the treks to class, even though they might be more dangerous for him than others.

“You’re constantly on edge when you’re longboarding, especially when there’s a lot of students around. It’s easier to weave in between people when you’re on a longboard though ... and it’s easier to stop right away,” Mallory said. “Sometimes you just have to dive out of the way if you’re going to run into people. I think that’s how I fall the most.”

Staff reporter Rachel Brauer contributed to this report.

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