When North Dakota State first launched the Bike Share program, students were given a unique tool. The bikes offer transportation that connects students to areas around campus and to several places downtown.
The system has flaws and through an increase in our student fees we can improve upon it.
“We are absolutely one of the greatest, if not the best bike share programs in the nation,” Mason Wenzel, Student Government’s executive finance commissioner and member of Bike Share’s board, said. “We win national awards continually and people ask us how we do it.”
Wenzel said the student body helps make bike share successful.
“The reason why I think we are so successful is because we have a lot of student contribution and student input through our student fees,” he said.
I agree with Wenzel on this, but I have to counter in this way.
There are issues, and these issues need to be addressed going into the third year with the bikes come springtime.
Primary issues are the limited number of docks and the bike share network . These issues, if fixed, could make one of the best Bike Share programs even better.
There are more docks than there are bikes. Although if you are biking to the Union at a peak time of bike share usage, be prepared for a tough decision.
As a student it is hard to make that decision. Go to class on time, or wait for someone to graciously take your bike. This is a decision that personally I think a student should never have to make.
With more docks located in high-traffic areas, we can only hope this option would be curved.
“As it is now, it is an amazing leisure source,” Wenzel said of the bike system. Wenzel said he sees expansion as a way to shift it to a better connected “network.”
On expanding this network, Wenzel discussed motions that would seek to improve the network for the student body.
“We want to connect students to everywhere students need to go,” Wenzel said. “Areas that we are looking at are over by the T-Lofts area. We are looking for other student living areas as well, for instance over by Bison Court and Stockbridge, because we get so many requests for those locations.”
On the surface, using a bike offers an opportunity for students to cut down on the travel time to class. Other benefits could include fewer cars on campus, excluding winter months, and a greener option of travel. For certain students, though, this simply is not an option.
“A bike share dock over by T-Lofts would be beneficial for members of SAE and residents of the local apartments in the area around the location,” Kyle Blank, chapter president of Sigma Alpha Epsilon, said. “It would make travel to and from campus a lot easier and also offer a mode of quick transportation to the downtown campus for people who have classes down there.”
With these motions it seems that Student Government has started the correct action. Assuming action takes hold, one of the most accomplished Bike Share programs will only get better.
Personally for me, using the bike share is more of a luxury. To a student relying on the Bike Share program for transportation to class, these moments can be challenging.
Wenzel said students contribute “roughly $5” to Bike Share per year through their student fees.
The Bike Share program is great, but to improve there must be action. Action is coming, but it requires student support and response.
For a college student, money can be tight. What we must decide is whether or not we can improve the system that has gotten so much national attention. Can we make the system better, more reliable and more accessible to students?
As it is right now, Student Government would either have to increase student activity fees or cut from another program for more money for Bike Share.
As a student we are given this option: increase our fee or accept cuts to other programs. An increase in the Bike Share contribution per year could help lead to improvements. For next springtime we can accept the same issues, or work to combat what we have learned to this point. With a tight budget this may not be the time. Moving forward, with more money in hand we should be looking to expand and improve the nations best bike share program.