Maybe you want a green commute. Maybe you want to eat lunch at the Mandarin before your next lecture. Maybe you want to get a friend a pair of two-by-fours and re-enact the medieval tradition of jousting or a ladys favour. In any case, you need a bike and UTMs BikeShare aims to make stu- dents dreams of mobility a reality.
BikeShare is a student-run organization that loans bikes for personal use. It has been profiled in The Mississauga News and The Toronto Star and the City of Mississauga awarded its founders with the Phil Green Recognition Award. UTM students have probably seen BikeShares trademark yellow bikes rolling through the campus or parked outside the Student Centre, where the BikeShare office is located. BikeShare loans bikes for three hours, which requires a T-card as collateral, or for twenty-four hours, which requires registration at their office. They also loan safety equip- ment and locks to students who request them.
BikeShare was founded in 2004 by Aubrey Iwaniw and Jason Nichols. A team of volunteers maintain it; Jefery Fernando and Mark Vas coordinate it. Fernando handles administration while Vas focuses on bike repairs.
The organization itself is funded by the Sustainability Office, which in turn is supported by student fees. About a quarter of a dollar per student, according to Fernando, goes to BikeShare. The funds are used to maintain the bicycles, which require constant care. Some people just dont seem to know how to ride a bike, Fernando jokes. While minor repairs are billed to the office, major damages are the responsibility of the student riding the bike.
Along with repairing their own bikes, BikeShare also offers repairs and tutorials by a BikeShare mechanic for students who own their bicycles. Students can walk in with broken bicycles and be equipped with the knowledge on how to repair and maintain them.
In the past year, BikeShare has increased its fleet of bikes by 18 and have made repairs to the older, more damaged ones. They have also increased their office hours, allow- ing students to rent bikes more often. In recent months, Fernando notes, demand has risen to the point where volunteers have to occasionally turn students away due to a lack of bikes.
BikeShare has also been noted by the public in the past. Smart Commute Mississauga recently sponsored prizes for the BikeShare event The Amazing Green Race, a scavenger hunt bike race around the campus.
There are obvious problems with running such an organization. Fernando notes that occasionally students do not return their bikes on time and attempts have been made to steal bikes. During such scenarios, police intervention may be requested.
In the future, Fernando hopes to further increase their stock of bicycles to keep up with the demand, a good sign that our community at UTM, based on sustainability and environmental responsibility, is taking positive steps to embrace sus- tainable transportation. And if community responsibility and intelli- gent transportation isnt enough to win a ladys favour, then nothing is.
With that in mind, ride safe and dont bludgeon other students.