Thursday, November 18, 2010

The Underground Issue 04

Bikeshare wheels its way back to campus

Added Nov 11, 2010
by Jiyoon Ellie Kim

Mayor-elect Rob Ford doesn’t want any more bike lanes in the city. But UTSC bikers might need some, since the BikeShare Program came back this year, with a fully renewed system.

Run by the SCSU, the program lends bikes to students for a maximum of 48 hours, operating with recycled and donated bikes from the community.

Two years ago, SCSU executive, Zahra Murji, introduced the program as a campus sustainability project.

Although the program has not grown much, Murji is confident that, with the help of a possible expansion next semester, it will develop beyond SCSU.

“We have a lot of ideas on how are we going to be collaborating with the athletics and residence, and trying to get everyone in conjunction together, so we will have more bikes available at different locations so that students can access [them] a lot easier,” Murji said.

The program currently has about 40 members using the bikes on a regular basis.

Ais Baskaran, a fourth-year conservation biology student, first found the program through her ecology fieldwork course. Her professor arranged a couple of field trips to the UTSC valley using its bikes. Later, she became a member.

Baskaran appreciated the bike training sessions and check-ups that are provided for user safety.

She also encouraged students to consider donating their old bikes to the program.

“Maybe people are not approaching them [BikeShare] because it doesn’t have enough bikes,” Baskaran said. The program currently has eight operating bikes.

Unlike the usual perception of a bike’s inconvenience, Baskaran explained that one can also travel a long distance, since TTC streetcars and subways allow bikes on them, and newer buses in Scarborough are in the process of installing bike racks.

“I notice there are more bike lanes than before. Now there are bike lanes even in my neighbourhood,” she added. “If it [wasn’t] winter time, I totally would bike to school.”

“Biking saves a lot of money, and people can avoid being sardines with all other passengers crammed on the bus at eight in the morning,” said Michael Overall, a member and bike trainer and technician.

He explained that it could be more viable for commuters who live near the campus but still have to take the bus.

“On top of that, biking is a good way of getting exercise when people don’t have much time,” Overall said. “Our bikes are a lot nicer than cycling in the basement of the Athletics Centre.”

However, Overall also called for more hands and bike donations since there are only a handful of members to take care of the bikes.

Since most bikes are recycled and donated ones, Overall advises students not to hesitate joining BikeShare. He ensured that old-fashioned bikes and parts actually appear to be stronger and last longer than recently manufactured ones.

To join is easy. Simply bring your T-card to the SCSU office, get a brief training session for safety, and sign out a bike. Then you are good to go for 48 hours with a membership card and bike key. Registration guidelines can also be found on the Intranet.

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