‘Rolling in the Right Direction’

ERICA NITSCHKE | THE SPECTRUM Freshman zoology major Kelsey Erlien leaves the Memorial Union Friday afternoon on a Bike Share bike.
Freshman zoology major Kelsey Erlien leaves the Memorial Union Friday afternoon on a Bike Share bike.

Fargo’s latest transportation program is quickly becoming its most prominent.

Great Rides Bike Share, which took off March 15, has shattered all expectations as far as its projected success and use. The program’s economic and transportation convenience has especially succeeded at North Dakota State University.

Sara Watson Curry, Great Rides director of operations, said the NDSU reaction to Bike Share has been “overwhelmingly positive.”

“We were expecting four checkouts per bike per day,” she said, “and that’s been the case on days when it’s been cold.

“We’ve been averaging close to 1,000 checkouts a day.”

With about 10 checkouts per bike on a daily basis, Bike Share has racked up more than 38,000 rides since its March launch. More than 5,000 NDSU students have activated their Bison card with the service.

“We’ve had users every day despite the weather, and of course, we were real lucky having a mild spring,” Watson Curry said.

Summer setup 

Bike Share will still be fully available during the summer. An estimated 4,000 students are expected to be around, and Bike Share will be there for their transportation and recreation.

“Certainly we’ll see the (checkout) numbers drop,” Watson Curry said, “but I think … with nicer temperatures, we’ll see more frequency on checkouts being returned.”

The fall’s incoming freshman class will be the first students with Bike Share waiting for them to use. Educating the first-year students about the program is expected to happen during orientation with help from student government.

“We’ll work on the specifics over the summer of the different locations we can have demonstrations, allow people to have an insight to it and get rolling in the right direction,” Watson Curry said.

Away for winter 

As a seasonal service, Bike Share will be unavailable once the snow starts to fall.

All 101 bikes will be in winter storage where they will receive a complete overhaul with tune-ups, maintenance and upgrades.

Dates of removal and return are still up in the air, but like other bike share models across the country, a November-to-April storage season seems most likely.

“They’ll get a little tune-up, they’ll take a little winter slumber and we’ll roll them out again in spring,” Watson Curry said.

Tweaks to the system

Since Bike Share began, some problems have persisted, such as dock unavailability at certain stations on campus.

“We’re actually trying to work out some funding to enlarge … and expand the current stations that are on campus,” Watson Curry said. “The kiosk on the south entrance can support up to 31 docks so we would like to … add more docks.”

Great Rides hopes to expand the Memorial Union, High Rise and University Village stations.

During winter storage, the bikes will also be upgraded to an active GPS system.

Continuing success 

With a record-breaking start, Bike Share has brought enjoyment to its users and its regulators.

“We’re really pleased that people have been enjoying it,” Watson Curry said, adding she loves bikes because they connect people in many ways.

The transportation and recreation aspects of the service are what most users have come to like about it.

Educating more potential users about Bike Share is a large part of the program, too.

“It’s been a big education for lots of people,” Watson Curry said, “… It’s something grownups can do as too. Grownups can ride bikes, and grownups can share things, too.”

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