How Can Students Work Toward Campus Bike Shares?

It all starts with a problem.

Your first class ends at 9:50, the next starts at 10, and the buildings are a 15-minute walk across campus from one another.

The nearest supermarket is 20 blocks away from your dorm and you don't have a car.

The university isn't doing enough to meet its sustainability goals – or perhaps it isn't setting them high enough.

You've heard of bike sharing; perhaps you've been to a city or campus that has it, witnessed it in action, and realized that it's an ideal solution to many of the everyday problems faced by you and your fellow students – as well as faculty and staff. Identify the greatest problem that bike sharing can solve on campus. If you already have a campus bike share, but it isn't taking off, determine what's preventing it from succeeding.

Design The Solution

Okay, you're focused on the problem – now it's your job to demonstrate exactly how a bike share can solve it. Figure out where to locate bike share stations in order to shorten transit times across campus; plan for stations near dorms so students can get around town on errands; report how many AASHE STARS points and LEED credits a bike share will gain for the university, helping to meet those sustainability goals. Maybe that current bike share is failing because the stations are out of the way and have limited hours – a problem easily solved by upgrading your system to automate checking bikes in and out.

Now that you've got a plan of action, it's time to start talking to the people who can help you make it happen. If you're going to focus on sustainability efforts, contact the sustainability committee – 95 percent of universities have one. If you're going to focus on fixing campus transit issues, reach out to the people in charge of facilities and transportation. Join with other interested students and faculty to form a bike share committee. In general, talk about bike sharing with every person you can – the more supporters you can gather, the better. You'll be surprised how many will listen as long as you present them with a clearly defined problem and a thoughtfully planned solution.

Who Can Help You?

Ready to start making this campus bike share happen? Here’s a short list of administrators to whom you can go with your plan:

  • Vice President for Student Affairs
  • Transportation Planner
  • Sustainability Coordinator
  • Campus Recreation Director
  • Facilities Director
  • Dean of Students
  • Vice President of Campus Life
  • Director of Student Wellness

You're also going to want to reach out to bike share vendors (like Zagster!), present your findings, and get help with the logistics of evaluating and implementing a bike share on your campus. Important considerations include the type of reservation system, who will do maintenance, who will manage the program, dock locations, rental times, membership and late fees, and a timeline for implementation of the campus bike share program. Make sure you keep leaders among the students and administration looped into your conversations with vendors and solicit feedback from everyone.

Ultimately, a university vice president (typically of student affairs, transportation or sustainability) will have the authority to push the bike share plan through its final evaluation by the administration and eventually oversee its implementation. However, you can stay involved with the process by reaching out to various departments and clubs to find funding sources – we can help with that, too – and establishing a timeline for decisions to be made.

Ready to Start Planning?

Learn everything you need to know about how to bring bike sharing to your university in our free guide.