For a price cheaper than a textbook, PennCycle sells unlimited single-day bike rides for a year.
The student-run bike-sharing project has grown significantly since its Hill launch in March. It now operates from Stouffer College House and the Penn Student Agencies Store, and it opened its Houston Hall branch today. The Houston Hall store will be open seven days a week from 9 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. Students can pay $25 for a semester or $40 for the year to rent a bike for the day, as often as they like. For an additional $5, students can keep the bike overnight.
College senior Christopher Cruz, who serves as fleet manager and expansion director for PennCycle, conceived the idea of the bike share program his freshman year in order to make campus more sustainable.
“I noticed that Princeton, Cornell, Harvard [and] Yale — even Drexel — had a bike share, and I wanted to start one for Penn,” Cruz said. “It offers a green way for students to travel into the city and to civically engage with different community service options.”
Cruz noted that the new bike lane on Walnut Street also exemplified Philadelphia’s efforts of becoming more bike-friendly.
Joining Cruz were members of the founding team: College junior Madison Roberts and Wharton junior Alex Rattray. Roberts, who serves as PennCycle’s managing director and employee manager, became involved after being drawn in by the environmental aspect of the program.
“Biking offers students a great way to get around that is not only fun but sustainable and healthy,” Roberts said. “You can see parts of Philly you couldn’t see without a bike.”
Rattray, who serves as PennCycle’s website manager and publicity and sales manager, emphasized the convenience of the program. “You don’t actually have to worry about [the bike] getting lost or stolen when you’re not using it, which is a huge deal in Philadelphia.”
Vice President of Public Safety Maureen Rush said bikes sitting around that are not often used “become bait.” With PennCycle, however, a rider is not responsible for a bike after it is returned.
To fund the program, the team sought and was awarded a Green Fund grant by the Green Campus Partnership.
“I think it’s a great project,” Environmental Sustainability Coordinator Dan Garofalo said. He added that PennCycle was awarded the grant in part because of the extensive research that was done to understand what operating a bike-share program would entail.
College junior Mauricio Novelo signed up for PennCycle because he was interested in using bicycles as a form of transportation without the use of fossil fuels. “It’s a great way to experience the city in a new way. It’s definitely not as big as a commitment as buying a bicycle,” Novelo said.
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