While things are a little bit quieter up on the campus now that most students have finished their studies, during the academic year there was a definite change on campus.
The campus and its students went green while seeing red, red bikes that is.
For about the last three years, students have had the opportunity to participate in the Cardinal Red Bike program, which allowed students to use a bike during the course of a term. According to an official with the college, the number of participants and bike riders increased significantly.
When the program was introduced, officials didn’t have any expectations, said James Prather-Rodgers, transportation safety and parking coordinator for the college.
“One thing we were concerned about was a lot of students haven’t touched a bike in a while,” he said. “The best response was that it reintroduced the idea of biking to our student population. The number of students riding bikes on campus has doubled.”
Cruiser bikes are available to students, and a student employee helps to maintain the bikes, he said. Because the bikes are cruisers, they are easier to maintain.
The way the program works is that a student fills out a waiver and an agreement that states they will operate the bike safely, Prather-Rogers said. If something happens to the bike, they bring it in to have it fixed.
The student gets the bike for one term at a time. The bikes are available fall to winter and then again after spring break.
Along with the bike, the students also get a resettable combination lock that they can keep and use to make sure the bike isn’t stolen, he said.
“The red bike program is definitely one of the most successful programs on campus,” said Abby Hahne, sustainability coordinator for the college.
Riding a bike on campus has become the new norm, she said. The number of bikes on campus has steadily increased.
“One thing that has sort of surprised me, we haven’t done much advertising,” said Prather-Rodgers. “We have a lot of demand. We purchased another 20 bikes and they were out the door.”
The college has 65 bikes in circulation, he said. When the program started it was more of a free-for-all and a small number of the bikes were lost, but with the new program there is accountability and the bikes are maintained. The only time a student must pay is if the bike is damaged or the lock must be reset.
A key benefit of the program is that there are fewer cars on campus, Prather-Rodgers said. The campus isn’t very large and in the past many students were driving from the north to the south side of campus, which is only a few blocks.
“We have students who have a bike and ride it and then decide to go out and buy their own,” Prather-Rogers said.
Along with the Red Bike program, the campus also has two Zipcars, which are available to students and residents to use. The Zipcar program is a car sharing program, rather than a car rental.
The college also offers students a remote parking shuttle, which take students to cars parked at , while also shuttling them to and Westfield Fox Valley Mall.
“The greatest impact has been felt through the remote parking efforts, we have more space for faculty staff and commuter students,” he said. “We are able to make the flow go more smoothly.
“Once you have a driver’s license you drive [It’s a challenge] getting students to recognize you don’t need to drive everywhere. The campus is only one mile from top to bottom, but a lot of students are so used to driving they don’t think about it.”
Two Zipcars are available on the North Central Campus near the recreation center. Anyone who wishes to use the cars may register and use the cars. To learn more, visit zipcar.com.