The Office of Sustainability has launched a bike-sharing program that few people seem to know about, but plenty of people have found.
Alyshah Aziz, an intern for the Office of Sustainability, pitched and organized the idea for the ReCycle bike-sharing program last year.
When Aziz envisioned the idea, she thought about students biking around campus on a nice fall day, cruising up Wake Forest Road, turning left on Reynolda Road, exploring all of Winston-Salem while getting exercise, enjoying the outdoors and not harming the environment.
“[Aziz] identified a need for students and faculty to get around on campus in such a way that was accessible, and specifically to the office, ‘green,’” said Emily Claire Mackey, the ReCycle Bike-share intern.
In a 2015 study done by the EPA, 27 percent of the total U.S. Greenhouse gas emissions were caused by transportation. Passenger cars were the largest contributor. As a result of statistics like these, there has been a nationwide movement toward alternative forms of transportation, such as biking.
The creation of bike-sharing programs is a new trend that can be found in almost every city. The company Zagster, recently installed in Winston-Salem, is a service that will bring a fleet of bikes to a college campus or city. Bike users check out the bikes and use them to their convenience, tracking the whole thing through an app.
This company puts a modern and virtual spin on original city sponsored bike-sharing services such as Citi Bikes. These type of services have been popping up around the country in a hopeful effort to reduce gas emissions.
ReCycle began with a fleet of bikes rescued on campus by University Police. These bikes were forgotten and abandoned by their owners or locked to bike racks long enough to warrant their removal.
Previously, the bikes would have been donated to charities but Aziz had the idea to fix the bikes and allow Wake Forest students and staff to use them as a form of transportation. Now, the collected bikes are tuned up by Ken’s Bike Shop and loaned to students and faculty for 10 dollars a semester.
“[This is] a group effort between the Office of Sustainability, Outdoor Pursuits, Ken’s Bike Shop, Campus Transportation and Parking, Campus Surplus and our return participants,” Mackey said. “The ReCycle program is a great example of cross-campus integration and cooperation.”
These bikes serve a dual effect of helping both students and the environment.
“I ride just about everywhere. I’ve lived off campus for the past two years and [the bikes] have been a huge help,” said junior Luis Herrera.
Since the idea for ReCycle was launched, the fleet of bikes has grown in size from the original 35 to the current 104 bikes. Originally, the program was intended for students who did not have access to transportation, such as international students or those facing financial hardships. Each year there is a waiting list that is at least 30 to 40 people larger than the fleet.
However, despite the wait, very few students are actually aware of ReCycle.
“We have intentionally done no publicity or open marketing because of the small fleet of bikes and high demand,” said Lee Collette, Outdoor Pursuits assistant director.
As a result of this, the program is in the process of transferring from the Office of Sustainability to the Outdoor Pursuits office. This is mainly because Outdoor Pursuits has the infrastructure to deliver logistical support to a larger fleet.
Both offices hope to expand the amount of bikes available for rent.
The renovation of Reynolds Gym provides an increase of physical space to store the bikes.
The complete transition should hopefully occur within the current academic year.
Collette explained how Outdoor Pursuits mirrored objectives between the two programs.
“It creates a positive sense of stewardship through natural activities while also addressing the question of how is the Wake Forest community providing in the outlet of sustainability,” Collette said.