Long walks from shuttle stops to the classroom may soon be a thing of the past.
A bike-sharing program for UTSA is currently under consideration and, if implemented, would give students an additional option for getting around campus.
A group of student organizations is working with the Green Fund to gauge student interest in a program that would allow students to check out bicycles temporarily, similar to the B-Cycle program that can be found downtown.
The Green Fund, which is supported by student tuition and fees, would likely be responsible for paying for the project.
In a bike sharing system users can check out a bicycle at one station and return it to a different station, allowing for a host of users to share a smaller number of bicycles and at a significantly lower cost than if they each bought their own bicycles. Bicycles can only be used where there are stations to return them to, but this efficient system can make it easier for individuals to get from place to place without the hassle and wait of walking or taking a shuttle.
The push for a bike share program is being spearheaded by “green” student organizations on campus, such as The Movement, the Green Society and Roadrunners for Renewable Resources. Members from these groups and the Green Fund will be around campus conducting surveys to gauge how interested students are in such a program.
“Bicycling is definitely the quickest and most efficient way to get around campus,” said Christopher Perkes, who is working with the Green Society to survey students. “You don’t have to wait around, you don’t have to find parking, it’s just so much quicker and efficient.”
There are over 30 universities across the country that currently implement bike share programs, including Texas A&M, which began its program this year with 10,000 bikes and six stations around campus where students can check out and return bicycles.
Perkes is hopeful that students will be supportive of a bike share program on campus: “I actually haven’t gotten a single negative response yet — it’s very encouraging.”
The City of San Antonio began its own bike share partnership in 2011 with B-Cycle, a company based in Wisconsin that operates bike sharing systems in more than 25 cities, including Houston, Salt Lake City and Madison. Since opening with 14 stations downtown, San Antonio’s program has expanded to more than 50 stations that stretch from Brackenridge Park near Trinity University and the University of the Incarnate Word to the Mission Reach of the Riverwalk south of Loop 410.
“We are very proud to be the first city in Texas to adopt this sort of bike share program,” said San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro, who also wants to see the Alamo City become the most bike-friendly city in the US.
UTSA’s downtown campus is currently served by one of the first B-Cycle stations in San Antonio.
However, implementing a bike share program on UTSA’s main campus is not without its challenges. Not only must the surveys determine that there is indeed interest for the program, but implementing a bike share system carries a host of logistical hurdles.
“The next challenge would probably be in getting through Transportation Services to get a system like this up and running as well as maintenance of the bicycles,” said Perkes. Perkes also warned that it could likely be “two to three semesters at the earliest” before the system could be put in place, based on other Green Fund projects.