New bike share initiative offers alternative transportation

Mason Hickok, Editor-in-Chief

The Office of Sustainability is set to unveil a new bike share program available to students and faculty. Starting on Sept. 6, users will have the opportunity to rent bicycles to commute to and from their vehicles or their classes. 

The program — aptly called “BeakCycle” — will introduce 19 bikes across 11 locations on the Main Campus. Users must download the app “On Bike Share” to rent the bicycles. The bikes will be freely available to the UTSA community, with certain caveats. The bike racks guide users through how to access and return the bicycles — bikes must be returned to a BeakCycle kiosk.
The Office of Sustainability is starting this project, among other transportation projects, due in part to a $407,000 Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement Program grant through the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT). Dr. Jennie Yoshimoto, Senior Sustainability Coordinator with the Office of Sustainability, spoke about what the TxDOT grant will help with on campus.  

“The grant is to [essentially] improve air quality, so it would help to reduce ground-level ozone, improve congestion [with traffic] and to promote healthy habits. One arm of that is promoting biking on campus through our BeakCycle bike share program, through the semester rentals that we have partnered with Outdoor Pursuits, through the on-campus bike shop and through the mobile bike repair shop,” Yoshimoto said.
The aforementioned mobile bike repair shop is set up inside of a UTSA-branded Tesla Model Y. Yoshimoto hopes to use the shop as a means to access bicyclists at the Downtown Campus and community events around San Antonio.

Lani May, Director of Sustainability at UTSA, spoke about the bikes from an accessibility perspective and the location choices for the pilot program.

“Accessibility is a big issue for me personally. That was one of the things we wanted to do was to make people [be] able to get around the campus. Originally we wanted to put [the bikes] in the commuter lots, but Campus Services does such a good job with shuttles and bringing students in. So we wanted to start the process on the interior of campus,” May said.

Alongside the launch of the BeakCycles on Sept. 6, the Office of Sustainability will be hosting an outreach event between the softball fields and tennis courts on Brenan Avenue. Yoshimoto spoke about the goals for the event.

“The goal is two-fold,” Yoshimoto said. “One is to encourage students and staff to try out the new BeakCycle bikes. We’ll have Brenan closed for the day. People can come; we can show them how to do the app and help them get registered. Then they can cruise up and down Brenan as well as take their bike[s] to class.”
Additionally, Yoshimoto spoke about the second half of the outreach event, which focuses on public opinion about the future development of Brenan Avenue.
“The other purpose of it [the outreach event] is to really get a feel of student and staff opinions about how they see Brenan developing. Brenan used to be an exterior street on campus, and now as campus has expanded, it is an interior street. So it’s a perfect opportunity for placemaking, because what we really want to do is promote Brenan as a pedestrian and bike-friendly corridor,” Yoshimoto said. Yoshimoto spoke about the future hopes that alternative, more sustainable modes of transportation flourish as the UTSA campuses inevitably grow.

“As the campus expands, we really don’t want to have cars at the interior of campus,” Yoshimoto said. “So having those alternative transportation methods to do the last mile commute. You would park and leave your car on the exterior of campus and then be able to have transportation [available] to get to your final destination.”
May spoke about transportation being one of the ways in which you can avoid the moniker of UTSA just being a “commuter campus” and that buying into campus life is important.

“You know most campuses [have you] leave cars on the outside and try to get you to walk on the inside; they do that because they try to build a walkable campus. They don’t want parking lots all over the interior because that begets you as a ‘commuter campus.’ People come to campus and then they drive out. You treat it as a community college. Everything we do on campus, the clubs, and the services at Student Affairs is always moving away from the idea of a commuter campus. Transportation is one way of doing that. When you walk on campus, it becomes your neighborhood, you start to feel like a community,” May said.
Students and staff are encouraged to attend public outreach events listed below.


Brenan Ave. Event:

11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tues, Sept. 6,  BeakCycle Launch and Placemaking Opinions — We’ll be set up between the JPL (library) and Business Building


Creating Engaging Spaces Interactive Workshop:

3:30 p.m. Wed, Sept. 7,  HEB Student Union: Ballroom 1.104


Please RSVP on Rowdylink.

Courtesy of the Office of Sustainability
Courtesy of the Office of Sustainability