USG Bike Program a free way for students to pedal around town

Written By Briana Walton

The United Student Government (USG) offers a free daily bike rental service on the fourth floor of the Student Center that is not new to the university, but may be new to underclassmen.

Sabrina Bodon, a junior journalism major, and USG’s press secretary explains why the student government offers free programs like the bike rentals to students.

“We want to provide services for the student body,” Bodon said. “If we can provide it, you don’t have to go looking for it.”

The bike program started in the 2011 academic year under Anthony Costulas, the USG president at that time, according to Bodon.

“[USG] allocated a little over $700 to bring the bikes in and right now USG pays to maintain the bikes,” Bodon said.

“For the most part, the senior class, and maybe some of the juniors, know about it because they were here when it used to be in the lobby [of the Student Center],” Davion Heron, a junior musical theatre major and USG vice president, said. “Now you have to get it from the gym.”

Students who wish to rent a bike must fill out a waiver every semester that requires approval, according to Emily Forney, a student programming coordinator at the Student Center.

Upon the waiver’s approval, students are provided with more than a bike.

“We provide a bike lock so that you can lock it if you need to go inside and we provide a helmet,” Forney said. “Helmets are actually a part of our agreement; you have to wear a helmet.”

Forney says that once a bike is taken out, the student has until 6 p.m. to return it to the Student Center.

“We can’t have people out past sunset because we don’t have headlights,” Forney said. “There is a state law that says you have to have a headlight if you are riding between sunset and sunrise.”

As for the bikes themselves, there are about 10 bikes in circulation for bike rentals. The bikes are numbered one to 10 in accordance to height, with 10 being the tallest.

The bikes are offered to all students as well as community members. Forney defines a community member as anyone affiliated with Point Park.

“If you are an alumni, a staff or faculty member, there is a $20 monthly fee that you can pay to access the building,” Forney said. “So if you pay that fee you can get a bike.”

Forney plans on teaching the students at the front desk how to perform the basic bike maintenance tasks to make sure that the bikes are performing well for the riders.

“I know basic bike maintenance, and so that’s something that I’ve been developing for the front desk students to know as well,” Forney said. “They know how to put the chain back on, how to make sure everything is tightened and how to inflate the tires. That’s most frequently what you have to do.”

The USG bike rental program is not the only program that is available in Pittsburgh. Healthy Ride is the city’s bike rental service; however the service is a pay-as-you go as opposed to being free for students.

Kristi Chenarides, a senior sports, art and entertainment management major, was originally going to rent bikes from Healthy Ride.

“It’s a cool concept because you park it with multiple bikes and you don’t have to get yours back,” Chenarides said.

When she found out about USG’s bike program in her sophomore year, she rented a bike from the Student Center instead.

“My boyfriend told me about it,” Chenarides said. “We were trying to think of something to do later that day and he mentioned that you can rent it for free at the Student Center. We went and it was a super easy process.”

The two bike programs “work together in the sense that there are other options other than Point Park if all the bikes are taken,” according to Heron.

USG plans on doing more advertising in the near future for the bike program.

“The advertising is not as apparent only because we had to deal with a lot of bigger issues when it came to things like food providers and shuttles, so it went a little bit further back on our priority list in terms of advertising,” He ron said. “While I’m here, it’s staying under USG.”

Disclosure: Sabrina Bodon is the online editor for the Globe.