Rice Bike Rentals offers a new option for riders
This past Sunday marked the start of the Rice Bike Rental program as a group of Rice University students took hold of 30 gleaming new bicycles - theirs to keep for the rest of the semester.
Previously, the bikes were kept in the basement of Sid Richardson College, which houses the student-run Rice Bike Shop. Employees of the shop worked closely with organizers of the Rice Bike Rental program, helping to select and acquire the bikes.
The program aims to reduce Rice students' dependence on motorized transportation by providing semester-long leases of quality bicycles at a reasonable price - $50 per semester, plus a $100 deposit, according to the group's website.
General manager Sena McCroy said the number of applications greatly exceeded the number of available bikes. McCroy, a McMurtry College senior, said priority was given to applicants who have long-distance needs, such as those who live off campus.
Rice Bike Rental was initially conceived by five students taking the course ENST 302: Environmental Issues: Rice in the Future. The original group comprised McCroy, graduate student Allen Chen, exchange student Clement Ory, McMurtry senior Tristanne Mock and Zach Casias (Wiess College '13).
Rice Bike Shop general manager Matt Makansi said a hallmark of the program is the accountability it asks of its participants in their involvement with regular maintenance.
"Students will learn how to take good care of their bicycles even after their rental is over," Makansi, a Duncan College senior, said.
According to the rental agreement, bikes must be brought into the Rice Bike Shop in Sid Rich once a month for a check-up and routine maintenance. Renters are also advised to refill their tires every two weeks, either by themselves or by visiting the shop, and may bring in their bikes for additional extra repairs such as those for major cosmetic damage or structural damage, which will incur an extra cost.
However, repairs will not likely be a pressing concern, according to financial officer Denis Leahy.
"The bikes are of better quality than those offered in [Rice's previous] bike share program," Leahy, a Martel College senior, said.
According to the website, the fleet consists of 30 Torker U-District single-speed road bikes, complete with lights and a front basket. Their black frames range from 48 to 56 centimeters to accommodate different heights and bear a special sticker to distinguish them from other bikes on campus.
However, according to Makansi, such a distinction is hardly needed.
"Torker is a West Coast company," Makansi said. "There probably won't be any others on campus."
According to Makansi, Torker was chosen for its good quality and bulk prices.
Crystal Olalde, a Martel Junior, said the bike rental program came at a perfect time.
"I moved off-campus this year, and even though my roomate has a car, I wanted to have the option of getting to campus without a ride," Olalde said.
Olalde, who rented a bike for this semester, said she wasn't disappointed by the quality of her new bike, and appreciated the amenities provided with the rental.
"I love the bikes they provided - they're really nice," Olalde said.
Olalde said the positive envinronmental impact is an important factor to consider when deciding whether to bike instead of drive.
"I think it's a good first step, and not just at Rice but in Houston in general." Olalde said. "I think it's awesome that they're trying to be environmentally safe."
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