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Wheels Up: Students Can Now Borrow Bikes Through O’Neill Library

Boston College students can now borrow bikes through the O’Neill Library free of charge.

The program has been in the works since March 2015, when Bike BC first contacted O’Neill Library with the idea, but the bikes only became available to students on Wednesday.

In order to check out a bike, students must go through a certification class with Bike BC. The course teaches riders how to safely ride on the city’s streets. This includes how to signal to cars that you are making a turn and which lanes bikers can ride in. Currently, Bike BC offers the courses twice a month, said Ben Li, president of Bike BC and CSOM ’19.

Once they’re approved, students must sign a waiver, in which they agree to take care of the bikes and say they understand that there will be a fine for items lost or returned late. Students only have to sign the waiver one time each academic year.

Several other universities across the United States, including Tufts University, have bike-sharing programs that are run through the campus library, said Connie Strittmatter, head of access services and collection maintenance for O’Neill Library.

To take a bike out, students go to the circulation desk in O’Neill to get a key to the bike lock. The bike rack is located on the first floor of the Comm. Ave. garage.

The rental lasts for three days and includes a lock and key, a helmet, and a light. There are three different size bikes with 15-inch, 17.5-inch, and 20-inch wheels. There are 10 bikes total, all of which Bike BC paid for with funds from the University.

Last semester, Bike BC hosted a pilot program to improve its program before opening it to the student body this fall. With the feedback he received from the pilot program, Li made some adjustments.

He tagged each bike with a number so that students don’t confuse their bike for another. Bike BC also worked with O’Neill Library to set up a space on the library’s website where students can check to see if there are bikes available.

O’Neill is trying to stagger when the bikes are taken out so that Bike BC can regularly check the bikes to be sure that they’re in good working condition.

So far, 51 students have become certified to ride and three bikes have been taken out.

Li believes that the bikes will be particularly attractive to students who don’t live on Main Campus, including freshmen on Newton Campus and upperclassmen living off-campus.

“It’s more convenient for them if they have a bike available to them,” he said. “Especially since it’s a very short ride—it’s a short exercise.”

There are also a lot of international transfer students interested in the program, Li said. Most of these students come from countries where riding a bike is a more common mode of transportation. Out of the 51 students who are certified, approximately 10 are international students, he said.

Most of these students don’t want to buy a bike because they are only staying for one or two semesters. This program offers them an alternative.

The third group of students using the bikes, he believes, will be those who don’t have a meal plan, because they need a way to get to the grocery store.

As the program grows, Li hopes that a broader scope of students will use the bikes for taking day trips into Boston or just for fun. He also hopes that eventually, biking will become a more popular mode of transportation among BC students.

“Down the road, I want people to think of biking as another tool they can use,” he said.

Featured Image by Amelie Trieu / Heights Editor

September 14, 2016

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