Rutgers prepares to expand bike share program on campus
With enrollment at Rutgers on the rise, the school's transit system has become increasingly overwhelmed. In response, the University has begun to explore new ways to solve the problem.
One idea that has gained significant traction is a public bike-share program for students.
Rutgers has already begun to raise funds for the program. Once completed, it would operate similarly to New York City's Citi Bike program, which allows anyone to rent a bicycle, ride it around campus and return it, said Jack Molenaar, director of the Rutgers University Department of Transportation Services.
“We are working on getting a million dollar grant for a bike share,” Molenaar said. “The ones that everybody is familiar with are the ones in NYC where you lock them into stations. The ones we’re looking at you can lock onto anything.”
Every bike at Rutgers will have a GPS attached to it, which will allow students to locate bikes on their smartphones. A specific app will unlock the bike and allow students to use it, Molenaar said.
The move to include GPS tracking on the bikes will also allow Rutgers to detect traffic patterns and help administrators to track high volume areas where infrastructure and facilities need to be updated.
A similar bike share program currently operates at Princeton University. The school expanded their bike share last month to include 60 additional bikes, according to their website.
“When people have options like this, it makes it easier to leave a car at home, which reduces congestion, pollution and emissions on and around campus,” said Kim Jackson, director of Transportation and Parking Services at Princeton.
Molenaar said he predicts that roughly 10 percent of current Rutgers bus riders will take advantage of the bike share program.
He said the program could also inspire students to eventually begin to bring their own bikes to campus.
In an article published in the Washington Post, users of bike share programs in cities such as Virginia discussed its operation. The consensus, according to the article, was that bike shares in cities consistently reduce traffic and commute time for users.
As more students transition to bikes at Rutgers, Molenaar said he predicts it will become easier for all students to get to classes. This includes students who are physically unable to directly take advantage of the bikes because the buses will be emptier and more accommodating.
“Let’s say two years from now we have a bike share and you come out and you have to grab something quickly and you see a bike, you’re going use that instead of waiting for a bus,” he said. “I know that if we get a bike share implemented it will be astute because it's just faster."
Sharbel Skaff is a School of Arts and Sciences first-year student majoring in exercise science. He is a contributing writer for The Daily Targum.