UC San Diego has launched a new bike-share program that could revolutionize how faculty, students and staff get around campus. The initiative is a collaboration between UC San Diego and Spin, a leading bike-share company that offers a fleet of orange-colored smart-bikes. Each bike is equipped with a GPS tracking device that can be used to locate the bikes and, with the Spin app, unlocked by scanning its QR code. At the end of a ride, users simply park the bike in a responsible location, such as near a bike rack.
“The program is designed to offer the campus community an affordable, environmentally friendly and healthy form of personal mobility,” said Gary C. Matthews Vice Chancellor for Resource Management and Planning. “In addition, the initiative helps bring UC San Diego another step closer to achieving carbon neutrality.”
The Spin bike-share program had a soft launch in December with 50 bikes in key campus locations. An additional 250 bicycles were made available by the time of the Jan. 18 kickoff event.
“As many of you know, getting around campus can take more than a 10-minute walk, and the campus is continuing to expand,” said Garry MacPherson, Associate Vice Chancellor of Environmental and Building Services who gave the opening remarks at the kick off. “With the Long Range Development Plan, which includes more building east of campus and the Gilman Bridge, we hope to create a more bike-friendly campus that contributes to reducing our greenhouse gas emissions, while increasing the quality of life for our campus community.”
The bikes are meant for use on campus by students, faculty, staff and visitors. If a bike is taken off campus, it should be returned that same day.
The program is a collaborative effort between transportation services, the sustainability program office and integrated procure-to-pay solutions.
“With UC San Diego’s push to become a carbon-neutral campus by 2025, encouraging bicycle use through programs like this is key and there is already a lot of excitement on campus about the roll-out of this program,” said Dave Weil, director of campus sustainability and carbon neutrality.
Weil added that he has been personally making use of the program, often using Spin bikes to get to meetings two or three times a day.
In addition, student support has been critical to the initiative’s launch.
“As I was driving to get here today, looking for parking, I thought of how useful this program will be,” Mark Derdzinsk, president of the Graduate Student Association told the crowd at the Jan. 18 event. “We are really excited to have this program started so we can help students get from the lab to class and from class to home more easily.”
Lesly Figueroa, president of the UC San Diego Associated Students, echoed this enthusiasm.
“We have been talking about getting people moving around campus with all the growth and we think this is a wonderful opportunity to address this issue,” she said.
During the pilot phase, the campus will track bike usage and preferred parking areas in order to identify which campus locations will benefit the most from the service. Campus demand and use patterns will determine fleet and program area expansion opportunities, according to Curt Lutz, marketing manager for transportation services.
“Our new construction, including the new Gilman Bridge, will be very bike friendly,” Lutz said. “This is exciting for the thousands of commuters who already bike to campus and for all those who want to find an easy and healthy way to get around.”
Ian Happle, a bicycle enforcement officer at UC San Diego, has been biking to campus for years. Initially commuting from Pacific Beach, Happle now lives in South Park and takes a shuttle to Hillcrest where he bikes to the main campus and often bikes home to South Park at the end of the day.
“Biking can be a fun and safe way to get around,” Happle said. “We really encourage everyone to wear a helmet. A helmet can reduce the risk of severe head injury if an accident occurs. You ride at your own risk.”
Users are responsible for providing their own helmet, however, Commute Solutions has a limited number of helmets available for riders to borrow. Commute Solutions also has coupons for $20 off a helmet at Campus Bike and Skate for UC San Diego affiliates, while supplies last. Riders under 18 years of age must wear bicycle helmets in accordance with state law.
The Spin Bikeshare Program is designed to be cost-effective for all members of the campus community.UC San Diego users will receive the following discount rates:
- $0.50 per ride under 30 minutes; $1 per each additional 30 minutes
- $14 per month for unlimited rides under 30 minutes
- $49 per year for unlimited rides under 30 minutes
In addition, options are being developed to enable departments to pay for staff to use the bikes for commuting around campus.
This article was originally published for This Week @ UC San Diego.