Oakland University keeps pushing Wallmart bike sharing

Oakland University in Rochester Hills is expanding their on-campus bike share program.

According to the Oakland Press:

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.

This 26″ Women’s NEXT La Jolla Cruiser Bike is styled in a classic design, with an extra-low dropped top tube for maximum comfort. Its full aluminum frame reduces the weight to an incredible 28.5 lbs., and makes the 26″ NEXT women’s bike easy to handle… Play it safe! Always wear a helmet and safety pads when you ride.

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!

Bike Share video from Oakland Press

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3 Responses to “Oakland University keeps pushing Wallmart bike sharing”

  1. Brendan Benson Says:

    Take a stroll through OU’s campus and you’ll see these bikes scattered all over the place – in the middle of fields, on the side of the road, etc…

    While it’s a good gesture of OU to offer this program, it appears they haven’t put much effort behind it.

  2. Greg Jordan Says:

    We appreciate the comments and perspective regarding the Bike Share program. To correct a piece of information that is not true, the bikes were not pruchased from Walmart. We purchased the bikes directly from the manufacturer.

  3. Todd Scott Says:

    Alta Planning has released an interesting document titled “Best Practices in Campus Bicycle Planning and Program Development.” It includes a discussion on bike sharing and much more.

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