Rent-A-Bike program adds changes, improvements

Photo courtesy Calvin Senate.
Photo courtesy Calvin Senate.

Student senate has made fresh changes to revamp the Rent-A-Bike program. The bike program will only include long-term rentals — either for one semester, two semesters or the entire calendar year.

For the three years that it has been in existence, student senate’s Rent-A-Bike program has gone through several rough patches.

Three years ago, student senate decided to launch a community bike program, hoping that students would communally share a collection of bikes around campus. However, these plans were derailed when the rental bikes were vandalized, found on top of buildings and even in trees.

Two years ago, the bike program changed again. Students could temporarily rent bikes like library books, checking them out and then bringing them back to the bike racks. But like the previous year, this system proved to be troublesome, as bikes were getting lost and stolen.

Joel Altena is a junior hired by student senate to run the new bike initiative. Altena hopes that the bike program has smoothed out its rough edges from the previous years.

“The short term program wasn’t working out, so this year we decided to only go to long-term rentals and cut the short-term program because it was not getting us [revenue] and it was not helping the bikes in terms of damage and sustainability,” Altena said.

This year, the bike program’s new improvements, adjustments and increased campaigning and advertising has led to a successful launch.

“This year we have had a lot of success, more than in the past,” Altena said. “Two years ago the bike program didn’t get launched well in the fall, so this year I’ve been working all summer to get this going.”

Students are able to choose between single-speed bikes with a fixed-gear system or multi-speed bikes with seven gears. The bikes also come with extra perks to accommodate students.

“These bikes get a lock, a key and free maintenance,” Altena said. “So if a tire gets popped, or if a chain breaks, or if other things happen from wear and tear, we will fix it for free.”

The new bike program is a reasonably-priced program that students should make use of, Altena said.

“It’s a very affordable program to use,” he said. “$35 or $45 for a single speed or multi-speed bike for one semester, which comes with free maintenance, so if anything ever happens to this bike, it gets fixed. If you own a bike yourself, it costs $100 or $150 to buy a nice bike, and if it breaks down you have to pay $50 to fix it. So the program is really helpful in terms of maintenance and having transportation.”

Students who are looking for convenient and well-located transportation should consider the Rent-A-Bike program, Altena said.

“Once you have a bike you can get almost anywhere in Grand Rapids,” he said. “You can go to the mall, downtown for Art Prize, Jersey Junction with friends or a Saturday morning ride around Reeds Lake for exercise. It’s a very easy way to get around campus and the city. Grand Rapids has become very bike-friendly in the past couple years by putting in bike lanes and bike trails. And if you’re running late for something on campus, there are bike racks outside of almost every building. So it’s reliable, efficient and easy to use.”

The new bike initiative will also feature enhancements such as a campus bike club, monthly campus bike rides and bike repair classes for students.

In order to develop the biking community at Calvin, Altena plans to organize monthly campus bike rides which would go to places such as downtown Grand Rapids for Art Prize or Jersey Junction for ice cream.

Students who “like” the Calvin Bike Club Facebook page will receive information and updates about the bike club events. The bike club is free to join for all students with bikes, whether or not they rent from the program or own a personal bike. Calvin students who want to learn or brush-up on their bicycle know-how will be able to take workshop classes from Altena on bike repair.

The bike program is also partnering with the campus store to offer students an incentive for renting bikes.

“If you rent from us for a full academic year [two semesters] or a full year [through the summer], then you get 20 percent off the Calvin bike jerseys in the campus store,” Altena said.

About the Author

Connor Sterchi

My name is Connor Sterchi and I’ll be one of the campus news editors for the 2013-14 school year. I’m from Crystal Lake, Ill. This is my senior year at Calvin and I’m planning to graduate with a major in writing and a minor in journalism. Writing is my passion and calling, which I hope to fulfill as a journalist and author.

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