Thursday, November 01, 2012

[139] Bicycle rentals, repair shop catch MTSU student, faculty attention

For release:  Oct. 31, 2012

News and Media Relations contact: Randy Weiler, 615-898-5616 or
MTSU Campus Recreation contact: Josh Stone, 615-904-8484 or

MURFREESBORO — For $15 for the fall and spring semesters, MTSU students are getting a great deal for bicycle rental and regular repairs on campus that’s helping ease their pain of finding a parking space for their cars and trucks.

The new Blue Raider Bike Program offered through the Campus Recreation Center is a huge hit with students — and faculty and staff can enjoy the benefits of the bike shop, too.

The program, implemented at the start of the fall semester in late August, encourages the student population (25,394 enrolled this fall) to ride bicycles instead of driving cars across campus.

Campus Rec has 15 Origin8 Cutler bicycles and also mountain bikes available for rental from the bike shop, which is open from 7:45 to 10 a.m. Monday, Wednesday and Friday, and from 1 to 4 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays.

“The good of it,” said Josh Stone, associate director of recreation programs, “is they’re in high demand,” talking about 15 commuter bikes. “The bad of it: They’re all gone.”

Stone was viewing a virtually empty bike rack on a recent October morning. Moments later, while checking the sign-out sheet, he said most of the 14 bikes were due back in by the end of the day. (One bike, which needed repairs, was being held out of the rental fleet.)

Junior Suzanne Sallaj of Murfreesboro utilizes the rental program.

“I use the rented bike for classes,” Sallaj said. “Since the campus is large and in-between time is condensed, a bike is the best transportation. Parking isn’t an issue, space of riding is available and the cost is nothing except for the per semester $15 fee.”

“I think it’s terrific,” said Dr. Phil Oliver, associate professor in philosophy and auto commuter from his Nashville home. “Along with the new dedicated bike/bus lanes, it makes our campus ‘greener’ and more navigable. It also models a form of transport we need to encourage in all our communities. This is one of the things we discuss in my environmental ethics course.”

A $39,000 grant, obtained earlier this year through a Clean Energy Fee, paved the way for the bike rental program and full-service bike shop.

“We expected it to be very slow and catch on eventually,” Stone said. “It was a snow-ball effect. All of a sudden, it became a blizzard.”

By September’s end, word spread around campus about the one-speed bikes, which do not have gears because of MTSU’s flat campus and for lower upkeep and maintenance.

“By the end of September, we were really busy, to the point where we were seeing empty racks where the bikes are supposed to be,” Stone said.

Oliver said he both rents from the bike shop and brings his own bicycle.

“Having the option to rent will free me to ride on campus even on those days when I didn't load the bike on the back of my car,” he said.

Oliver said by bike he “travels between my building (James Union) to the rec center, the Student Union Building, Walker Library (including Starbucks) and to class when it’s distant. Last semester, I had a hard time getting to classes in the education building on time, without a bike. This should solve that problem in the future.”

The $15 fee allows students an unlimited number of rentals and repairs “as long as it is normal wear and tear items,” Stone said. The fee includes a helmet, lock and basket used to carry books or shopping purchases.

Each rental is for 48 hours. When returned, after a 10-minute maintenance check, it can be renewed for an additional 48 hours based on availability.

For faculty and staff who own their own bike and purchase the card, their normal wear and tear repairs (flat tires, brake pads, etc.) will be covered.

Oliver said the bike shop performed a tune-up on his “old Raleigh” for $25, half of what his previous tune-up cost, and “they did a good job.”

Shelters, which can accommodate 15 bicycles and expected to be built by the end of November, will be stationed in the Greenland Drive and Rutherford Boulevard parking lots, enabling commuters to park there and bike to their inner campus destinations.

Stone said an additional grant will be pursued for next year that will double the number of bikes in the program.

He added that the bike shop would be closed most of December and January, reopening in February 2013 with new hours. For more information, call 615-904-8335.

Photo captions

Josh Stone1.jpg

Josh Stone discusses details of the Bike Shop bicycle repair program. Stone serves as associate director of Campus Recreation programs and performs repairs. (Photo by MTSU News and Media Relations)

Natalee Lewis1.jpg

Natalee Lewis, an MTSU junior nutrition major from Murfreesboro, checks a brake pad on one of the Origin8 Cutler rental bicycles. She is a technician in the Bike Shop. (Photo by MTSU News and Media Relations)

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