Urban planning students’ study leads to campus bike program

Teresa Qu

More than 2000 bicycle trips are taken each day in Texas A&M’s new bike share program, which debuted in the fall 2013 semester after an award-winning report by Master of Urban Planning Students showed a significant interest in bike sharing from students, faculty and staff.

In addition to gauging campus interest in the program, students in a fall 2012 transportation system analysis class taught by Teresa Qu recommended locations for bike share stations and the number of bicycles needed for the program, which facilitates short-term bicycle loans for minimal or no cost.

The students’ report earned the 2013 Dr. Kent Butler Student Project Award from the Central Texas chapter of the American Planning Association.

“The project was the first phase of a multiphase bike share study,” said Ron Steedly, Transportation Services’ alternative transportation manager, who worked with the students throughout the semester. “With the results of their work, we decided to move to phase two.”

The students’ report included results from an online survey, in which 73 percent of students, faculty and staff respondents said they would use a bike share program if it was available. The planning students created a global information systems map showing recommended station locations based on data detailing the campus’ flow of motorists, bicyclists and pedestrians on a typical weekday.

Students gathered some of the data themselves, counting travelers at various campus locations at different times of the day, and used additional data from Transportation Services, the registrar’s office and other sources.

The bike share membership is free to students, faculty and staff; using a bike for the first two hours is free. The third and fourth hours are $1 each and the rest of the day until midnight is free.

More than 700 users have signed up to use the low-maintenance bikes, made of stainless steel with no chains and airless tires, available at six on- and off-campus stations.

"I've kind of wanted (a bike) on campus since I was a freshman,” said Colleen Harrison, a junior English major. “Its just so much easier getting to class with them," she told KRHD-TV.

posted October 31, 2013