Swarthmore's Bike Share Program Returns

by Camila Ryder '13
Members of the Swarthmore bike share program.
From left, Jonah Schwartz '15, Tony Lee '15, and Erin Ching '16 have helped revitalize Swarthmore's bike share program under the leadership of the Cycling Club, which Ching co-founded. (photo by Camila Ryder '13)

Traveling around campus just became a whole lot easier - and faster - with the recent return of the Bike Share program, which provides free bikes to students. 

When the previous program ended last year, many students were left wondering if the program would ever return. But with a partnership between Student Council (StuCo) and the newly formed Cycling Club, the Bike Share program is now fully revitalized.

Tony Lee '15, the Campus Life Representative on StuCo, took on the management of the Bike Share program, hoping to create better organization and work toward fixing and maintaining the bicycles that were in major disrepair. When Erin Ching '16 began writing the charter for the Cycling Club last semester, both students realized an opportunity to absorb the program into the Cycling Club.

"Essentially, what we've done is integrated what used to be a Student Council project to a Cycling Club project," says Lee, a Burnaby, B.C., native. "They are willing to maintain these bikes, extend their services, and increase the awareness, the members, and promote cycling within the community."

Starting today, students will be able to check out a bike, lock, and helmet at McCabe Library by swiping their ID cards. Bikes can be used for one day and will be located at the bike racks behind Parrish. While there are currently only five functioning bikes, more will be added throughout the semester.

Ching, who hails from the bike-friendly city of Seattle, is a certified bike mechanic and has worked in bike shops since high school. Along with bike mechanic Jonah Schwartz '15, Ching has been fixing the bicycles, replacing old parts, and transforming the weathered bikes into new.

Ching started the Cycling Club last semester with Robin Carpenter '14, a professional cyclist with the Chipotle-First Solar Development Team. They hope the club will cover "anything bicycle-related on campus," Ching says, including providing free maintenance services for students' bikes and opportunities for college racing, as well as manage the annual Mary Lyon Bike Sale. The club's deep commitment to cycling extends beyond the bike, as they're also invested in environmental efforts on campus and are in talks to work with the EcoSphere Coalition on projects related to cycling and sustainability.

Through Bike Share, bicycles will now be available to all students on a daily basis. The Cycling Club will also be hosting workshops that teach students how to repair their own bikes. The first workshop will be Fri., Mar. 22 at 7 p.m. in Wharton D basement.