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The Hamilton Bike Share program’s early winter launch has been met with lukewarm reception on campus. Though the program will not likely see wide usage until the warmer weather, was it really worth the extra cost to install the Social Bike Share racks?

The Bike Share stations on campus have come with a $25,000 dollar price tag, a significant contrast to the typical $11,000 annual bike rack budget for regular bicycle users.

Director of Security and Parking Services Terry Sullivan explained his service’s enthusiasm to join Social Bike Hamilton.

“When the city came to us and said they were going into the bike rental program we were encouraged because with the explosion of bikes on campus, when every year the volume of people who use our bike racks increases, which I think represents bike usage on campus, it then becomes very important,” he said.

Sullivan explained that every school year, the university allocates $11,000 to new bike racks which are installed by the Facilities Services’ Grounds Department. This school year, that budget was increased to pay for the one-time cost of $25,000 for three out of the six Social Bike stations on campus.

“If you believe in the idea of promoting bike and other sorts of transit […] then you got to be able to put the money up sometime, therefore it was a pretty easy decision,” said Sullivan.

“If all these years we’re working with the city to improve the environment out here and encourage bike riding and transit riding… [and our] partner for so long comes to us and says we’ve also like you’d to participate, this … is a good idea for you as a university,” he said. “We jumped at it. I think it’s a great idea.”

Next September, new, normal-use bike racks will be added onto campus. However, it is unclear if normal bike users will be able to take advantage of the new Social Bike racks. Social Bike Hamilton does not have the authority on campus to cut locks on bikes, and Security Services has not been informed on how to proceed if a SoBi station is filled with regular bikes.

“We are currently encouraging students on campus to use the regular bike racks for their personal bikes, and the SoBi stations for bike share bikes,” said Community Manager of Social Bike Hamilton Chelsea Cox. “One way we are communicating that is through the sticker on each of the bike share station rack loops. If space becomes a problem at the bike share stations then we will work with the university to address the problem.”

Security and Parking Services are trying to crack down on prolonged bike parking to clear up bike rack availability in heavy use areas such as Mills Library. Currently, security officers leave notices on bikes left on the rack overnight and record the bike’s information. If the bicycle is still occupying that spot the next day, security will cut that bike’s lock and seize it until they receive a call from the owner. Well over a hundred bikes are seized and go unclaimed every year, and are then auctioned off during the annual bike program in support of MACycle’s bike repair shop.

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