Biking in Berkeley
A note to all those students heading back to campus this month: consider leaving the car at home. At the University of California – Berkeley, the founders of Green Bike Share are hoping their fellow classmates will do just that:
With the rising cost of fuel and its increasing negative impact on our environment it is imperative that we look for alternative forms of transportation. Cities across the nation are overrun with traffic and pollution, an indicator that there must be a better way to get around town. The Green Bike Share established by Justin Wiley and Marcelo Garzo, two students with a vision at the University of California – Berkeley, aims to solve these problems.
For a membership fee of $15 per semester, Green Bike Share provides students the ability to checkout a bike for up to 24 hours at a time to get around the large college campus and town. “As a student, the program is a no-brainer because it costs less over 4 years than purchasing a bicycle and we will be handling all of the maintenance – tune-ups, tire changes, etc.,” says Wiley. The bicycles are being custom built by a California-based company and will feature an eye-catching green frame and college emblems. “We are ultimately interested in making the program as easy to use as possible for our fellow students and are concerned about their safety,” says Garzo as he explains that the bikes will be outfitted with lights, portable air pumps, water bottle cages and helmets. Bicycle stations will be strategically placed around high traffic areas of the campus making it easy to pickup and drop off before and after classes.
The program proposal won first place in last year’s Big Ideas @ Berkeley competition for improving student life. Green Bike Share was awarded a $10,000 grant to cover startup costs and will operate as a nonprofit. A pilot program will be launching this fall with 20 bikes and plans are in the works to raise more money to expand that number. Passion is evident in Justin Wiley’s voice as he explains, “This is the beginning of something great – we are seeing bike share programs slowly starting to pop up around America and truly believe it is one answer to reducing our carbon footprint and getting our country into shape.”