Bike share programs take shape at Penn




A campus-based bike share system is becoming more of a possibility at Penn.

PennCycles — a bike share initiative ­— is hoping to receive funding to launch its pilot in March.

The initiative is being backed by a group of students who hope “to connect Penn with the greater Philadelphia community and give students a more sustainable way of commuting across the city,” said College junior Chris Cruz, who conceived of the idea during his freshman year.

Cruz joined with Wharton sophomore Alex Rattray and College sophomore Madison Roberts this August to come up with a way to make bike rentals a possibility at Penn.

Unlike the current bike share system in Fisher Hassenfeld College House, which is limited to Fisher residents, PennCycles will cater to the entire Penn community, Roberts said.

PennCycles will also apply to Penn’s Green Fund — which awards up to $50,000 for green campus initiatives — in October.

If their request is granted, PennCycles will launch a free 20-bike pilot at Hill College House in March. Depending on the result, PennCycle hopes to launch a campus-based bike rental system next September.

Meanwhile, the Undergraduate Assembly is working alongside the Executive Vice President’s Office to help promote an existing bike share effort in Philadelphia.

“The UA is working on longer term program with the Office of the Executive Vice President to help integrate Penn into what is a hopeful Philly bike share program,” College senior and UA Housing, Sustainability and Facilities Committee Director Sam Bieler said.

The PennCycles program, however, is more focused on short-term results, working within the Penn community. “Each group has found the niche in which it works most effectively,” Bieler said.

The Philadelphia bike share program is an effort that started in 2007. It aims to achieve a city-wide bike rental system such as the Velib in Paris. “I’m under the impression that things were getting bogged down due to financial concerns,” Wharton and Engineering senior and UA President Tyler Ernst said.

“The fact of the matter is that this has been an ongoing effort for nearly 5 years,” Cruz said, adding that PennCycles hopes to “get the ball rolling in terms of bike share.”

“We just hope to keep accurately representing the students’ support for the bike share program,” Ernst added.

PennCycles will reach out to the Penn community through a kick-off event later this year. As for whether the Penn community will be interested, time will tell. “I would have to see how it works out first,” Wharton sophomore Way Cao said.

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