May 3, 2012

Senate may revive Knox bike sharing

Knox Student Senate’s Sustainability Committee is interested in establishing a bike-sharing system for students, according to sophomore Max Potthoff, chairperson of the Sustainability Committee.

“It’s more of a bike-loan program,” he said.

The proposal is to establish a fleet of bikes that may be borrowed in conjunction with the Taylor Student Lounge borrowing system. Potthoff said that by integrating the bike-sharing with the Taylor Lounge checkout system, they keep control of the funding for the program under Student Senate, like funding for the lounge. In the proposed system, a student would check out a bicycle by submitting their Knox ID, which would then be held by staff at the lounge until he or she returns the bike.

Thus far, the bike-sharing program has been given approval by both Campus Life and Facilities, and Student Senate has approved funding for the program. Potthoff is personally optimistic about the program, citing strong support from administrators and high enthusiasm from students. He is hoping for a fleet of seven identical bikes to be stored somewhere close to Seymour.

Approval from the Campus Environment Committee, which oversees campus beautification, is the last step toward full approval of the program. The Sustainability Committee originally proposed that the bikes be stored in the courtyard outside of the Taylor Student Lounge, but Potthoff says this location was turned down over fears of this placement radically changing the campus aesthetics there.

Additionally, the campus environment committee wants exact specifications of where the bikes will be stored and how they will be managed before they grant approval, and Potthoff said that Student Senate is in need of outside expertise to assist in drawing up the final plans. He expects to see a functional bike-sharing program on campus by early fall of 2012, if given approval by the Campus Environment Committee.

Knox has had bicycle clubs and sharing programs in the past, but they have all failed to remain permanent. In Potthoff’s opinion, one of the three main causes for these failures is that bike storage was not clearly visible on campus, and that the bikes were stored out of the way, rather than at a location central to campus.

Secondly, past programs were not guaranteed permanent funding or management, and thirdly, there were insufficient measures put into place to keep students fully accountable for damages.

In addition to the Sustainability Committee’s bike-sharing initiative, Potthoff stated that there is talk of a more long-term initiative to create a larger, secondary bike storage location in a warehouse near the Administrative Services building. He is uncertain of the specifics or the viability of the proposal, but there is some hope in that the administration recently saved the proposed building from demolition, at least temporarily, at the request of students.

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