As spring weather makes its way back to campus, students are beginning to spend more time outside. Suddenly, that walk to Rocket Hall from Carlson Library doesn’t seem as miserable as it did in the winter.
For those who may not prefer to walk everywhere, however, another option exists. Rocket Wheels bike sharing program offers UT students and employees an alternative to trekking across campus and looking for parking spots. The program, designed by Facilities and Construction, will return for spring starting Monday, March 13.
“It is free and easy to use. Current students, faculty and staff can sign up online on the bike share website and check out a bike that day as long as the ID is valid,” said Diana Watts, UT transit and Rocket Wheels bike share coordinator. “It’s a healthy way to get around campus. Most campus buildings have bike racks very close to an entrance; it’s better than circling around for the nearest parking spot.”
The addition of the Ritter bike share station last fall provided improvement to Rocket Wheels, as now there is a station at every corner of campus, she said.
“Those who are in the parking garages, Rocket Hall Lot 25, and engineering lots 19 and 20 will find a station nearby where they can cross campus in less than five minutes,” Watts said.
So many improvements have been made at UT that it recently was named a Bicycle Friendly University by the League of American Bicyclists. The effort to obtain this designation was spearheaded by Neil Tabor, a former sustainability specialist for UT; Thomas Garey, facilities information systems manager; and Watts.
“From a sustainability perspective, bicycling reduces emissions, contributes to a healthy lifestyle, and saves on fuel costs. All of these things help to further the triple bottom line philosophy sustainability is defined by,” Tabor said. “I hope that this recognition will foster more attention for bicycling efforts at UT and highlight resources already available to students.”
Watts highlighted the new features that make borrowing bikes easier than ever: “Users will notice we no longer are using the large vending-type machines. The machines are now key boxes with a swipe access. The user can select a bike number on the screen, and the key area will light up, and the door will make a sound for the user to open. The keys can be returned to any location now. All you have to do is hold the key up to the scanner and the door will unlock. The user then returns the key back to the slot that is lit up. You don’t even have to swipe your card to return a bike.”
As far as bike safety is concerned, Watts added: “We would like everyone to follow the rules of the road and wear a helmet for protection. The Campus Safety Committee would like to remind everyone to lock bikes up at designated racks and corrals on campus. Please do not block walkways or doorway areas with locked bikes that may prevent accessibility to persons with disabilities.”
Signing up for the bike share program takes only seconds and can be done at bikeshare.utoledo.edu. Those with a valid UT ID need their username and password to enroll.
To celebrate the return of the program, students and employees are invited to attend the Rocket Wheels Mass Ride Tuesday, March 21, from noon to 1:30 p.m.
The ride will begin at the Rocket Hall bike share station. Thirty bicycles will be available to check out for those enrolled in Rocket Wheels, and participants may bring their own bikes to ride as well. The ride will end at the “Q” in the Flatlands around 12:45 p.m.
In addition to the ride, free food will be offered, and prizes will be raffled to those in attendance.
“We will have a refurbished bike to be raffled off from Rocket ReCycle, and we will also give away some free water bottles from the Sustainability, Energy Efficiency and Design initiative on campus. We hope to get some more donations from other bike vendors from around the Toledo area,” Watts said.
For more information on Rocket Wheels, visit utoledo.edu/rocket-wheels.