Need a Ride?
- Karly Kolaja ’11
In theory, everything in Chestertown is within walking distance. But when you’ve been up all night cramming for a psychology exam and are in serious need of an Alaskan from Play It Again Sam, you don’t have time to go for a leisurely stroll. And if you’re a few minutes late for a movie at the Chester Five, you have to get in your car.
Enter the Student Government Association (SGA)’s bike share program.
The brainchild of environmental studies major and SGA secretary of the environment Jenny Lee ’13, the program gives members of the College community a new option.
“Chestertown has very limited public transportation, and many students rely on their cars,” says Lee. “I wanted to start a program that would help lessen the dependence we have on cars, and provide people with a fun, safe, and convenient way to get around.”
In order to get the program up and running, Lee did a little research. After studying bike shares at other colleges and universities, she came up with an approach tailored to meet Washington College’s needs. Then, she enlisted the help of fellow environmental studies major and SGA parliamentarian Jeff Sullivan ’14.
“Jenny and I met with Chester River Outfitters and ordered bikes, and then got the paperwork started with the school administration,” says Sullivan.
“We really enjoy working with everyone doing this,” says director of public safety Jerry Roderick. “It is a fantastic program and, as we have learned, it is very popular. We get a lot more traffic in the office these days.”
After a trial period last spring, the bike share was ready for its debut.
So far, it’s been a hit. Registration during the pilot period reached Sullivan and Lee’s anticipated mark, and it’s only continued to grow. In fact, the program’s main challenge seems to stem from its popularity.
“We only have 12 bikes, so everyone cannot use them for as long as they want,” says Lee. “Most people have been very cooperative, though.”
And so has the SGA. The original 10 bikes the group purchased had 26-inch tires, which made them pretty uncomfortable for some of the shorter riders. But with the addition of two smaller bikes, the small in stature can take part too.
Interested riders (faculty and staff included) are encouraged to sign up. Participants simply have to pay a onetime fee, and can then go down to Public Safety and check out a bike whenever they like.