Students B-cycling for Earth Month

Brooke Vincent

In 45 days, students have generated enough miles on B-cycle bikes to travel around the world almost five times. Now, the University is upping the ante for Earth Month.

Through the month of April, Parking and Transportation Services is challenging students to collectively ride 200,000 miles through the B-cycle bike sharing system to celebrate active transportation and reduce carbon emissions.

“With the new B-cycle stations on campus, we thought it’d be great to collaborate them with promoting active transportation and have a goal,” said Jeremy Hernandez, PTS bike specialist. “We’re reducing congestion of vehicles by giving people another option, and we’re reducing carbon dioxide emissions by not using cars.”

B-cycle is a docked bike share program with 63 stations across the city of Austin. Nine stations were added on campus in February as part of an 18-month pilot program, which included a free membership for UT students.

“I saw every bike being checked out all at the same time yesterday,” Hernandez said. “Hopefully this (challenge) inspires people to ride a bike and be more active for themselves. We’re hoping that we can show the campus who was potentially riding the most, reach out and thank them with some B-cycle stuff.”

Student use has surpassed the program’s expectations, with 7,823 students signed up to use the service as of March 25. B-cycle is not only a good alternative to bringing a car on campus, but a good opportunity to stay green, advertising junior Victoria Mercado said.

“I think it helps a lot to put more of an emphasis on green focus,” Mercado said. “I believe a lot of college students try to be green where they can, saving where they can. Small changes like this are what help out a lot in the long run.”

B-cycle and this month’s challenge fits into the overall mobility plan for the Office of Sustainability, which strives to promote bike use and change student habits and lifestyles in the long run.

“Alternative transportation and increasing bicycle use is something in the Sustainability Master Plan,” said Jim Walker, Office of Sustainability director. “Not everyone is necessarily comfortable with riding a bike every single day back and forth to campus. If they can join B-cycle and start to get comfortable with using a bike for little trips around campus or back into West Campus, hopefully they’ll start to change their overall lifestyle.”

The upcoming hurdle for B-cycle is the potential ridership lull in the summer since students will be out of town, but for right now, the launch of the program and Earth Month challenge could not be more perfect, Hernandez said.

“There are so many benefits and I think people are really enjoying it,” Hernandez said. “There has been an explosive growth with the system on campus in general. The weather is great. Now is one of the most opportune times to get outside and enjoy the weather and the campus.”