September 28, 2010
Time will tell how successful the co-op turns out to be. They currently own 18 bikes, which is about 1 bike per 250 students, faculty and staff (give or take a few dozen). The program has a noble mission, from the article:
The mission of the Bicycle Co-op is to encourage faculty and students to ride bikes to campus rather than drive. This will cut down on traffic in and around the University.JCU is a small campus, such that walking between buildings isn't long or far. The way it's set up, the co-op seems most useful to people who live on-campus and want to go to places off-campus; not the other way around. So for example, instead of getting in a car and driving to Target or Whole Foods or Lee Road, students might instead borrow a bike and ride to wherever they're going.
I've been critical of the university's parking agenda in the past. I hope that the bike co-op fits into a larger master-plan for the university. Parking on campus is cheap and plentiful, because administrators have long believed that an over-abundance of parking is necessary for a functioning university.
Students that live on-campus don't all need their own personal vehicle. Unfortunately, the suburban nature of the campus, which is surrounded largely by a residentially-zoned neighborhood, makes walking to places off-campus a challenge. I'd guess that most off-campus students live within 2 miles; but since parking passes are cheap and purchased at the beginning of the semester, every time they drive that short distance and park, the marginal cost is zero. It's no surprise that so many do.
I biked to campus every single day my last two semesters at JCU. University Heights is, despite being suburban in so many ways; actually very easy to bike. There are more than enough secondary streets that go everywhere so that you'll almost never need to bike on one of the main arterials. The bike co-op has a good shot at success. But it needs to be taken seriously by administrators and seen as a legitimate alternative to endless parking expansion on campus.