Campus biking program to further sustainability efforts

Tori Lentz, News Editor

Students will be able to check out bikes for free with the ease of a smartphone app as early as next fall when NKU’s new bike share program comes to campus. The program is aimed at continuing environmental sustainability as well as providing more free and convenient services to students on campus.

Around 75 bikes will be purchased through The Gotcha Group, a Charleston, South Carolina based company that maintains collegiate bike share programs on campus such as Auburn University and Florida State University. The bikes, which cost around $500 each, will be stationed at three specialized racks at the Welcome Center, Callahan Hall and the residential village, according to Andy Meeks, director of business and auxiliary services. The bikes feature a chainless drive shaft, puncture-proof tires and three internal gears.

“There’s some cost from the university to get it going, but there’ll be no cost to students to ride them,” Dean of Students Jeffrey Waple said. “They’ll have a lock on them so you can put them on any rack on campus as you go. It’s all smartphone technology. There will be a code on the bike and it unlocks and off you go.”

The project will also have an effect on reducing NKU’s carbon footprint, according to Jane Goode, coordinator of campus space and planning.

“Forty-two to 45 percent of the campus’ carbon footprint is from commuting behaviors so anything that helps to lower that would be something that those of us who are concerned about sustainability are interested in,” Goode said. “A bike program would be very important to that effort.”  

The bike share program will be funded by local businesses who will be able to purchase advertising space on the bikes.

“We’ll put something on them obviously that says NKU, we’ll follow whatever the new branding guidelines are, but what you’re going to see is most of the branding is going to be from businesses that buy it,” Meeks said.

Representatives from The Gotcha Group will come to NKU while students are on spring break to show administrators the bike and present a plan for maintaining the service at NKU, according to Meeks.

Waple said the bikes will be especially useful to students when the connector road from Johns Hill Road is built, making much of the residential areas pedestrian-only space. Last year’s plaza renovations also eliminated several sets of stairs, making it easier for students to ride bikes through the area, according to Waple.

Goode believes that bikes are becoming more popular locally.

“I think people are starting to understand that bikes are really doable. There are a lot more bike lanes on campus than there were when I got here in 2008,” Goode said.

She said a change in perspective could have a tremendous impact on NKU’s carbon footprint.

“It takes a while for people’s mindset to adjust because most students who come here, they want to get the parking pass because they’re bringing the car,” Goode said. “They’re just bringing the car because ‘I’m grown up.’ The truth is that… perhaps even more grown up is thinking about what your effect is on the atmosphere.”