Oakland University in Rochester Hills is expanding their on-campus bike share program.
The pink bikes purchased by the university this year are part of the Bike Share program that allows any student to ride one of the bikes from and to any part of the campus for free, said Greg Jordan, director of OU’s recreation center and the Bike Share program.
Students are on the honor system to keep the bikes on campus for the next student to pick up and go on his or her way.
Jordan said: “What I am proud of is that the students of OU have chosen to make this an honor system program,” from among the many kinds of bike programs on campuses throughout the country, such as rental or signing them in an out for a certain period.
Will it work? From what we’ve seen first-hand and read about elsewhere, this is an unsustainable approach. The unlocked bikes eventually get stolen or damaged.
As Joel Batterman commented on college honor system bike sharing when we first covered this story in 2009, “…typically only succeed at very isolated rural campuses.”
In addition, there is the issue of durability. The OU bikes are sold by Wallmart for $89. At that price they probably aren’t very durable for a single-owner when stored inside a garage.
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OU’s Greg Jordan did tell the Oakland Press that “one of our challenges with the program is as heavily used as it is, is keeping up with maintenance and wear and tear on the bikes.”
What’s odd is these bicycle apparently do not have baskets or a rear rack for carrying items.
What about bike facilities?
OU’s roads are fairly poor for biking. They’re not Complete Streets. It seems investing in those while encouraging Rochester Hills and Auburn Hills to do the same would be a first step to increase bike commuting.
Michigan State University has been making those investments and building more bike lanes. They’re seeing big increases in bike commuting. They’ve received a Bicycle Friendly University award as well.
And MSU does rent (and even sell) bikes. Those renting do place a deposit on the bike and are responsible for their return. The bikes come with locks and can get free maintenance through MSU Bikes Service Center. Go Green!