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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper ā€” Waltham, Mass.

Editorial: Late to psych, ride a bike

Published: November 14, 2008
Section: Opinions

The quintessential college campus always seems to be scattered with bicycles, and for good reason. As a cheap, convenient and eco-friendly means of transportation, they appeal to students in a way that no car or campus shuttle can.

Yet, between the Massachusetts winter weather, the stress of bike upkeep and protection, and the fact that some students comes from places too far to transport their own bike to school, there are obstacles that prevent many students from taking the stereotypical bike ride through the Brandeis campus. A new Student Union initiative, however, might make bike riding more convenient for students.

The Union announced a new initiative Thursday that will be expected to implement a bike sharing program on campus as early as March. This will certainly be welcome news for students who miss the fun and relief of riding a bike, but are unwilling or unable to deal with the hassle of having a bike on campus. Students who have considered bringing a bike to campus must determine where to store it, as well as worry about theft, upkeep and repair. The number of bikes that remained in bike racks at the end of last semester and were tagged for removal is a testament to the frustration students experience in transporting their bikes to and from home. With the program in place, any student can have stress-free access to a bike.

When it comes to transportation, many Brandeis students appreciate sustainability as much as affordability. The bike program combines both, offering a cheaper, greener alternative to cars, whether the student brought one to campus or rents via Zipcar. While students looking to pick up groceries may still have to rely on the Branvan or a car, bikes are the perfect way for students to quickly get to class, visit their friends living off-campus or just go for a relaxing ride around Waltham.

This initiative follows in the steps of many other universities across the nation that have recognized the benefits of having a bicycle sharing program on campus. The major problems consistently faced by similar programs at other institutions, such as Middlebury College, were disrepair, vandalization and theft.

However, hopefully tentative provisions of the program will help it avoid these same problems. For instance, the Waltham bike shop Spoke ā€˜nā€™ Wheel will train students to be bike mechanics. Compensated by the Union, this group of students will perform routine maintenance on the bikes. The program will let more Brandeis students enjoy the beauty of a bike ride without the burden of stress.