Published June 25, 2015
Say you work in Crofts Hall and have a meeting on the Spine. You could get into your car, head toward Capen and drive around looking for a parking place. Or you could take the Green Line shuttle to Flint Loop.
Or you could do your part to cut greenhouse gas emissions and get a little exercise by hopping onto one of the white Social Bicycles operated by BikeShare at UB that’s parked on the Crofts plaza.
If you choose the BikeShare alternative to travel around campus, you’re not alone. Since it started more than two years ago as a pilot program, the number of students, faculty and staff who are signing up to be members of BikeShare at UB and are using the service has been steadily increasing.
In 2014, 255 individuals signed up to use the 40 bicycles based at hubs on the North and South campuses, according to data supplied by Parking and Transportation Services, which is partnering with UB Sustainability and Buffalo BikeShare to run the BikeShare at UB program. Fifty of those were active users of the program.
Those 50 riders made 1,741 trips, traveling 2,215 total miles — “the equivalent of biking from Buffalo to Phoenix,” says Chris Austin, assistant director of parking and transportation services.
“I’m pleasantly surprised and impressed by the way the campus has embraced UB BikeShare,” says Ryan McPherson, UB’s chief sustainability officer, noting the service has been integrated well into the campus culture. “It’s become part of the campus operating system; that, to me, means success.”
Austin adds that 71 persons have signed up for BikeShare at UB just since late April — a particularly noteworthy accomplishment that “speaks to the popularity “of the service, he says, given that the campus population declines during the summer months. He expects the number of signups to increase come August and the start of the fall semester.
BikeShare at UB uses GPS technology to allow users to track and rent a bicycle with a mobile device or computer. Bicycles also can be rented in person by using the keypad interface on the bicycle.
The idea behind the service is to give faculty, staff and students a healthy, green option for short trips around campus, with the goal of promoting better health and reducing the amount of vehicular traffic, especially for intra-campus jaunts. It blends the ideas of wellness, technology, sustainability and social connectedness, McPherson explains.
He says UB was the first university in the country to utilize this GPS technology in a bicycle-sharing program. And it’s proving to be invaluable in meeting the needs of BikeShare customers by helping to determine usage patterns and where to locate “hubs,” or bicycle racks, Austin says.
Riders join BikeShare at UB for a $15 annual membership. Use of a bike is free for the first hour, with each subsequent hour costing $5. Riders may use the bikes to travel on either the North or South campuses, or between the campuses.
To use the program, riders can go to the BikeShare at UB website on their computer or mobile device to locate and reserve the nearest bicycle, or they can go directly to a hub and type their PIN number into the keypad on a bike’s lockbox. Once the valid PIN is entered, the U-lock disengages and the bike is ready to be used. When the rider is finished with the bike, he or she returns it to one of the BikeShare hubs and locks it up with the U-lock. The bike is then available for the next rider.
Hubs on the North Campus currently are located between Fargo Quad and Greiner Hall at the Ellicott Complex, at the Student Union, on the terrace between Capen and Norton halls, outside Alumni Arena and at Crofts Hall; the hub on the South Campus is located at the Main Circle.
Austin says a goal of the program is establish hubs in University Heights and at other off-campus locations where students reside or frequent.
The success of BikeShare at UB dovetails nicely with other efforts, both at UB and in the greater community, to improve the infrastructure to make the roads friendlier for cyclists, Austin and McPherson say.
“Building UB,” the university’s comprehensive physical plan, specifically talks about creating bike-friendly campuses, McPherson points out, including encouraging year-round biking, prioritizing bikes in the campus core, improving commuter bike routes and enhancing on-campus bike facilities. “That’s what we’re talking about,” he says.
He also notes one of the key projects proposed in the city of Buffalo’s bicycle master plan is a protected bike lane running from downtown to the South Campus.
“It’s exciting to see things coming together, building the infrastructure on campus and connecting it outward,” Austin says.
I have used BikeShare at UB since last year. I graduated and now I am using it in the city. I hope they expand their services.