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The Daily Tar Heel

Bicycles for all: WeCycles proposes innovative bike rental program that the Town Council should approve

The town of Chapel Hill should allow WeCycles, a nonprofit bike-sharing organization, to begin operations.

WeCycles wants to construct kiosks around town near high-traffic areas such as bus stops and various campus locations.

For a $45 yearly fee or a $4 hourly fee, people can swipe a OneCard, credit card or WeCycles membership card and have a bike that can be returned to any of the kiosks, which would be open 24 hours.

WeCycles has stated that Chancellor Holden Thorp and UNC Chief of Police Jeff McCracken have both expressed interest, and the Town Council ought to follow their lead. This is a plan that would help both the town and its residents.

Its proposed business model is self-sustaining. WeCycles would be funded by membership fees and through collaboration with local businesses, which means fees will stay as low as possible.

Also, a wide availability of bikes — 300 spread over 30 locations — would decrease reliance on the town’s bus system, which often runs routes of 30 minutes or more.

WeCycles will also operate a Web site with information on how many bikes are currently available at each kiosk to help riders plan.

Davidson College has a bike-sharing program in which students and community members can take bikes for free, but they can’t be parked off campus, and there are no locks to prevent theft.

Duke has a free bike-sharing program as well, although it is funded by student fees and not open to the general public.

WeCycles’ proposal resolves the problems that both those programs have encountered, providing an optional program open to all and with many locations both on and off campus.

WeCycles would be hugely beneficial to local businesses, residents and students, not to mention the environment.

If just 10 percent of the town’s population of 80,000 people rode a bike 30 miles instead of taking a car, carbon emissions would be reduced by 114 tons, and 12,000 gallons of gas would be saved.

The council ought to approve the plan as soon as possible. It’s hard to say no to a proposal where everyone wins.

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