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Plans Call for Expanding New Bike Share Program on Campus Next Fall

Starting next fall, Old Dominion will have a fleet of 35-50 bicycles available for use by members of the campus community through a new bike share program known as Bike ODU.

A pilot program has started this semester with three bikes, which are available for use by faculty, staff and students in the human movement sciences department and the Outdoor Adventure Program at the Student Recreation Center.

The philosophy behind a bike share program is to advocate using bikes to commute rather than driving vehicles, and to use this mode of transportation instead of driving a car from one location on campus to another, according to Eddie Hill, assistant professor of human movement sciences, who started the program. "This helps decrease carbon emissions, increase physical activity and create a sense of community," he said.

Serving with Hill on the Bike ODU committee are faculty, staff and student representatives who are interested in promoting sustainable behaviors on and off campus. The other committee members are: Krista Harrell-Blair, doctoral student and sustainability coordinator for the STARS (Sustainability Tracking and Rating System) program at ODU; Tami Park Farinholt, coordinator of the Center for Service and Civic Engagement; Hobit Lafaye, adjunct instructor in the Recreation and Tourism Studies program; Bridget Nemeth, assistant director of the Outdoor Adventure Program; and Roxanne Stonecypher, undergraduate student.

Bike share programs are being launched all across the country, and now many colleges and universities have adopted such models to address both parking and environmental issues, said Hill, who has researched the development with other colleagues. He added that many schools have also used bike share programs in conjunction with STARS, which is a self-reporting framework colleges and universities use to measure their sustainability performance.

"At this point, our bikes are regularly used to pick up copies, go to lunch, for physical activity, and to attend meetings and classes. Current users of the bike share program have decreased their travel time, eased the parking issue and been physically active, while creating minimal carbon emissions," Hill said.

Once Bike ODU is in full operation next fall, bicycles can be checked out at no charge by any students, staff or faculty who are members of the Student Recreation Center, Hill said. The bikes come with a U-lock, helmet and basket, and may be borrowed for up to one week. The bikes will be housed at the Outdoor Adventure Program (OAP) and may be checked out during normal business hours. Users also may take advantage of the OAP Bike Shop for free maintenance and parts.

Donations from local businesses helped usher ODU's new bike share program into its current pilot phase. Surf & Adventure Surf Shop donated the three beach cruisers, while East Coast Bikes and Norfolk Bicycle Works both donated U-locks and baskets. OAP, along with in-kind donations from these three local businesses, will finance the fleet of bicycles coming to campus next fall.

In addition to the campus bike share program, the Bike ODU committee is working collaboratively with the city of Norfolk's Bicycle Task Force and the Department of Recreation, Parks and Open Space. The city is in the early stages of creating a municipal bike share program, Hill said, and ODU will assist in piloting policies, procedures and models for Norfolk's new addition to sustainable transportation. Research conducted by Hill and Lafaye, who are associated with ODU's Recreation and Tourism Studies program, will be used to help the city in generating a public education program for its bike share initiative.

This article was posted on: February 13, 2012

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