UT students get new sets of wheels with the B-cycle pilot program

Brooke Vincent

The City of Austin’s bicycle share system, Austin B-cycle, is helping students get on and off campus with its new, free UT student membership.

In conjunction with the City of Austin and UT, Austin B-cycle held a ribbon cutting Wednesday morning for the 18-month UT campus pilot program expansion. The bicycle share system opened nine new stations located on the 40 Acres and in West Campus.

“We are seen as one of the most successful bike share systems in the United States and we’re very excited to do this expansion,” said Elliott McFadden, executive director of Austin B-cycle. “The main convenience factor of having a fleet of bikes available 24/7 is not having the maintenance of your own bike or your own bike getting stolen. As soon as you get enrolled, you can jump on a bike and go.”

On-campus sites include one outside of Jester Dormitory at 21st Street and Speedway where undeclared business freshman Catherine Monteleone picks up a bike after class.

“I signed up yesterday and it was super easy,” Monteleone said. “It’s a really quick way to get around and Austin is super bike friendly. Most people can get use out of this. It’s easy to want to drive a bunch of places, but if you can bike it makes it so much easier since you don’t have to worry about parking.”

Students can sign up for a free membership on the Austin B-cycle website or through the app on iOS and Android by using their UT student e-mail address. It is free for the first 60 minutes, but then costs $4 for every 30 minutes afterwards. Bikes must be docked at a station. Launched 10 days ago, the bike share service has 599 students signed up.

“We’re really excited to show them how it works and the cool thing is, they can also use this to go downtown,” deputy director of B-cycle Elizabeth Webb said. “Now (students) don’t have to drive. They don’t have to worry about taking a Lyft on a beautiful day. They can just hop on a bike and go downtown. We’re connecting the city with the campus, and we’re super excited about that.”

With no cost to the University, the city paid the full $272,000 for the new stations. This is a part of the Big Jump Project in Austin to double bicycle ridership in three years, which began in 2017.

“We hope that this offers an affordable mobility option that (is) predictable and gives students a way to get around during their multiple trips in the day,” said Laura Dierenfield, City of Austin manager of active transportation. “We’re very excited to see how this model could help other places around the city.”

The UT campus is the second in the country to be added to the B-cycle system. Bobby Stone, director of UT Parking and Transportation Services, said he wants to see students regularly utilize the system before it is expanded and hopes this can reduce the number of bikes parked on campus.

“It’s less about the number of people that sign up and more about the number of people who use it,” Stone said. “Our push is to be looking for people that are interested in really using the bicycle and making a difference in how we move people around on campus.”