And if one group on campus has its way, students will have access to bikes all across campus within two years — if they are willing to accept a slight increase in fees.
The Tar Heel Bikes Steering Committee, which was created two years ago, is launching a two-week long campaign today in collaboration with Student Government to assess how much of an increase in the student transit fee students are willing to pay for a bike sharing program.
The committee currently has a partnership with the Residence Hall Association as a part of its pilot program.
Residents from Hinton James, Craige, Morrison and Ehringhaus can rent a bike for free by showing their One Card, and more than 5,000 bikes have been checked out in the test run.
Akhil J ariwala, the co-founder of the Tar Heel Bike Steering Committee, said the model that the organization is using resembles those in larger cities such as New York City or Washington, D.C.
“The idea is that you would have hubs around campus where students would be able to take a bike from one hub to another,” he said.
“As long as you have an account you will be able to check out a bike using your phone, 15 to 20 minutes to go say, from North Campus to South Campus, or the dining hall to an academic building.”
Jariwala said the major benefits of a bike sharing system are the improvement of accessibility around campus, healthy habits and a more sustainable campus.
He added that the committee has calculated the cost, and it will be roughly $2 to $4 more per semester for 100 bikes on campus. The student transit fee was $145.74 for 2013-14.
“It is the cost of a veggie burrito at Cosmic, so we think it is a worthwhile investment,” he said.
The exact figure, however, will depend on the assessment that takes place during the next two weeks, along with the recommendations of Student Government.
The final charge will be presented to the Department of Public Safety for final approval for the implementation of the fee for the 2015-16 school year.
“There has been a strong communication within the Student Congress and we are working with the Department of Public Safety as well,” said Danny Allen , a co-founder of the Tar Heel Bike Steering Committee.
Student Body President Andrew Powell said representatives from the executive branch and Student Congress are working on figuring out the small details.
“We want to contribute and engage in the community,” he said.
Allen said that the group has estimated that about 10,000 rides have been provided in the past two years because of the effort that has been put into the project.
“They love the convenience and that the bikes are in high quality and well maintained,” Allen said.