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ISSUE 121 VOL 2 PUBLISHED 9/28/2007

'Green bikes' debut

By Matt and Mark Everhart
Staff Writer

Friday, September 28, 2007

Students in the Cooperative Justice house (Felland House) are in the process of launching a Green Bikes program on campus, which will provide community-use bicycles for all students' use. Katie Godfrey '08 is leading the project. The goal of the project is to provide easy, fast transportation for any St. Olaf student and reduce carbon dioxide emissions around campus.

Although the Cooperative Justice House has hosted events for the Green Bikes program, the project will soon be its own organization. "We are applying to be an organization so that we can control our own funds and set bylaws," said house member Laura Groggel '08. "It's important that people know how to use these bikes safely and ethically."

The Cooperative Justice house has gathered 37 bikes from Public Safety and faculty to be used in the Green Bikes program. The bikes were recently all painted green by over 30 volunteers.

Members of the St. Olaf cycling team and other volunteers are in the process of repairing old and damaged bikes. "Most of the bikes are in pretty bad shape because they've been sitting in a shed for a few years," Groggel said. "I'm glad so many people showed up to paint bikes, but there's a lot of work to do on the older ones."

Members of the house predict that about 10 bikes will be ready for immediate use; the others will be available as they are repaired.

Godfrey said she hopes to conduct a tabling event outside of the cafeteria soon so students can sign up for a bike license.

"Any student who thinks they ever might want to use a bike should sign a waiver at the tabling event," Groggel said. "That way it can be a convenient system for everyone."

A numbering system will be implemented to keep track of how much the bikes are used and to prevent theft. Helmets and bike locks will be available through a check-out system. The system was designed with help from St. Olaf Treasurer Alan Norton, and the bikes themselves will be ready in "3 to 4 weeks, hopefully," Godfrey said.

Bike theft is a concern for the program, but Godfrey stated, "We're hoping for students to act on the honor code." She added that painting the bikes an obvious green color will deter thieves, and that the first few functional bikes on campus will test that system.

One of Godfrey's major goals with the Green Bikes project is to provide clean, free access to transportation for students living off-campus. While locks for the bikes won't be needed on campus, they will be needed for students who take the bikes off-campus.

"Eventually, when our fleet is large enough, students who live off campus who don't have access to a bike will be able to use them," she said.

Many of the bikes donated by Public Safety are bikes left behind by the owners and have been in a storage shed on campus for years. "Might as well put them to good use," said Katie Block '08, another Cooperative Justice House member working on the Green Bikes program. She added that most of the bikes are old, so students shouldn't worry about seeing their bikes they lost last year suddenly painted green.

Godfrey hopes that the Green Bikes project lasts beyond this year. "This is going to be a permanent program," she said. "Bikes are too difficult for many students to bring to campus, especially if they are from out-of-state, and this gives everyone equal access to bikes all over campus," she said.

Godfrey stated that this project is one of many that the Cooperative Justice House will lead this academic year. Other projects include obtaining sweatshop-free clothing in the bookstore, a donation tabling event and more.

The goal of the Felland House residents is to achieve sustainability at the "campus, local, and global level," Godfrey said. "We're focusing on every level because we want to show that everything is linked and our actions have consequences for better or worse," she said.

Sustainability has been a major theme on campus for the past few years. In 2004, St. Olaf adopted a campus composting program to reduce the amount of waste from Stav Hall. Last year's construction of the St. Olaf wind turbine supported the sustainability theme as well.

To complement these institutional changes, the Green Bikes program allows students a way to affect change on an individual level.

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