Coastal Cycles is one of best bike programs in country
Coastal Carolina University’s student, faculty and staff population have a fun, healthy and sustainable way to get to their classes on time through University Recreation.
Coastal Cycles, a program providing free bicycle rentals, has grown to be one of the largest bike programs on U.S. college campuses, totaling 3,300 rentals with 600 bikes a year for more than 10,400 students, according to Director of University Recreation Jody Davis.
All that’s needed to rent a bike for 30 days is a valid CCU ID and a willingness to pedal. From there, University Recreation provides the bike, helmet, lock and an experienced team of technicians to make any repairs that may be needed to the bike during the 30-day rental period.
Biking can help alleviate many of the usual commuting headaches, such the lack of parking spaces, shuttle delays or car breakdowns, according to Coastal Cycles. University Recreation Coordinator Beth Javener says bicycling is “one of the easiest, fastest ways you can take control of transportation."
With 600 bikes available to rent for free, Coastal’s program is large, unique and miles ahead of other universities in the state. Students at Clemson University must pay $5 for a membership card to rent bicycles, and the College of Charleston only has daily rentals of 16 bikes. The University of South Carolina, Francis Marion University and Charleston Southern University do not have bike rental programs.
Coastal Carolina’s Sustainability Coordinator Jeremy Monday believes using bicycles to travel on campus is not only great exercise, but also is great for the environment.
“We are always pushing for and talking about sustainable transportation options, which includes bicycling,” says Monday. “We believe that sustainable transportation should be safe, accessible, affordable and environmentally friendly.”
Bicycling has been known to reduce an individual’s carbon footprint, which is the amount of carbon gases emitted into the atmosphere by driving cars that burn fossil fuels.
Along with creating safe, affordable and environmentally friendly transportation, University Recreation would like bicycles to be available for all students, faculty and staff members.
“Our goal is to continue to meet demand and possibly one day have 1,000 (bicycles),” says Davis.
This demand is consistently high. Javener estimates that all 600 bikes are rented between 98 to 100 percent of the time during the year. She advises checking out bikes early in the semester to be sure of securing one.
When the semester begins, University Recreation applies a cut-off of 100 bike rentals each day. Each student or faculty member is given a ticket that marks their place in line, one through 100. Once all the tickets are taken, no one will be permitted to wait in line.
Once a bike is checked out, the renter has it for 30 days. He/she can commute to campus, go for a relaxing ride on the Conway Greenways bike trail or pedal through the Waccamaw trail for a workout.
Bicycles can also be renewed during the 30-day rental period. Javener suggests renewing the bike before the return date to guarantee that the bike can be renewed. If the bicycle is returned late, the rental cannot be renewed.
Coastal Cycles has seen exponential growth since its start in 2010. With a federal grant, University Recreation was able to purchase 21 bicycles that students could rent for two-week periods.
By 2014, the total number of bikes available for rent increased to 300. Since then, that figure has doubled to the current total of 600 bikes. While the University pays for some bicycles, many personal bikes with damages are donated to the program and fixed by the technicians.
Coastal Cycles isn’t the only source of two-wheeled transports pedaled on campus. Many students and faculty also bring their own bikes to campus. These cyclists have access to all of the bike parking spaces on campus, as well, and these spaces can be in high demand.
An informal survey conducted by Outdoor Recreation and Sustain Coastal, which analyzed the use of the bike spaces, found that the combination of personal bikes and Coastal Cycles’ bikes totaled more than 1,200. While there are enough spots on campus to accommodate these bikers, the placement of bike racks is being re-evaluated.
The bicycle spaces top out at 1,221 all over main campus, east campus and University Place. The majority of slots are located on main campus with 771.
In high traffic areas, such as the Wall College of Business building, if all of the bike parking spaces are occupied, many students leave bikes unlocked on the ground or against a tree. Outdoor Recreation hopes to develop a solution to this problem and still maximize sustainability.
Coastal Cycles is turning to students for advice on how to improve the program and cycling on campus in general. Once a month, the Bike Advisory Council meets to discuss ways to improve biking on campus, and the committee is inviting students to join the discussion.
“No one knows the ins and outs of campus better than the students,” says Javener. Students who bike on campus who would like to voice their opinion can contact Javener by email, firstname.lastname@example.org, or by phone, 843-349-6586, for more information on how to get involved.