A week after its unofficial introduction, the Bike Library officially began last Saturday. The new program is free for students and faculty to use.
At the ribbon cutting ceremony, the three project leaders — Jessica Berei, Austin Brandes and Mari Moroz — gave a brief explanation of how students can access the bikes.
“It’s a pretty seamless and easy process,” Berei said. “A student just has to come into Olmsted to the Student Life Center, and they have to bring their ID. We have an iPad set up in there.”
According to Berei, students must sign a liability waiver for check out a bike. They are given a helmet and a key to the bike lock. Then they are on their way.
The project began with the foundation of a First Year Seminar, “I Want to Ride My Bicycle: Cycling and Social Change.”
The group of first-year activists applied for and received a grant of $10,000 from The Wellmark foundation in support of the bike project on campus.
“The LEAD concentration took the grant on,” Moroz said. “There’s a LEAD 100 class that took on the project and started in with more of the details,” senior Mari Moroz said.
A three-year partnership with the Des Moines Bicycle Collective, a local nonprofit organization representing the impassioned cycling community, was initiated soon after the grant was received.
In addition to providing ongoing maintenance on the bikes when necessary, the collective offered logistical advice to the heads of the capstone project.
“Seth and Jeremy at the Des Moines Bicycle Collective were instrumental,” Moroz said. “They helped us choose the bikes. They helped us choose the kind of rack. They were the ones who said, ‘This would be great for Des Moines terrain, for student-use.’”
The 10 bikes available are Fritz models of the Sun-Bicycle brand. The style advertises durable, alloyed metal frames and a “classic Dutch Vibe” suitable for an urban Iowa environment.
“We had a threefold goal,” Moroz said. “We wanted students to use this for recreational use, just to bike around. We wanted it to be used as a means of transportation, a way to see Des Moines, a way to get to a job that they may not otherwise be able to access if they don’t have a car.”
The Bike Library organizers additionally wanted to encourage Drake students to maintain a healthy and active lifestyle. In this pursuit, the initiative employed $8,500 of the $10,000 grant. The remaining funds will go back to the Wellmark Foundation.
Due to the high cost of materials, there are consequences in place to avoid intentional damage, loss or theft of the bikes.
“Part of the memorandum of understanding is that they are going to have to pay for a new bike (if the bike is damaged or stolen),” Berei said.
This could possibly amount to financial compensation of over $400. Administrators have also accounted for technical issues that may transpire away from campus.
“We have worked closely with Scott Law in Public Safety, and he has been very helpful,” Moroz said. If something happens, like if the student has a flat tire or something, we are working out a relationship with them that they would be able to assist and pick that student up in whatever way is necessary.”
Despite these logistical details, the team has an optimistic outlook on the positive influence of the Bike Library in the Drake community. The development of safer bike lanes on Forrest and University avenues was expressed as a possible next-step in this cycling-oriented initiative.
“I think it’s just cool in the future to see what people are going to do with their capstone,” Berei said. “What sustainable change they’re going to bring to Drake, maybe not related to bikes but just in general.”