Five years have passed since 35 green beach cruisers were made accessible for the University of Richmond community to take care of and enjoy. Nowadays, students and faculty are lucky if they see more than a few functioning bikes around campus – even better if there aren't pieces missing.
It’s been one month since classes started, and most of these bikes are already either missing or damaged. Some of them, or what’s left of them, have ended up at the bottom of Westhampton Lake.
When the Weinstein Center for Recreation and Wellness started the free bike service for students and faculty in 2009, the aim was “to provide an alternative green form of transportation to lessen on-campus traffic and to minimize our carbon footprint.”
Lucia Anderson, coordinator of the Outdoor Adventure and Recreation program and a Richmond alumna, developed this program. The idea was that students and faulty would use one of these bikes to get somewhere on campus, and then leave it for someone else to use.
Senior Kim Waters said she believed the majority of these accidents happened over the weekends, when students were under the influence of alcohol. “Maybe a program where you could rent out bikes at certain locations by swiping your card,” said Waters, “or some similar system so you are responsible for that bike until you return it to another rack.”
Natalie Quiñones said she believed people don’t care about these bikes because the money did not come out of their pockets.
Virginia Commonwealth University has already developed a program similar to Waters’ idea. The Rams launched this program March 2012, when 12 bikes were made available for students and faculty. These bikes can be checked out at the library as easily as books or headphones, and must be returned within 24 hours, that way everyone can get the chance to use them. VCU also provides students with helmets to avoid serious injuries.
“Head injuries are so dangerous and they don't provide helmets, and all it takes is one fall for something disastrous to happen,” said Chanel Basha, an international student at Richmond. “In Australia, it's a law that you need a helmet to ride a bike.”
“From personal experience, I rode one drunk and cracked my head on the ground, which wasn't fun,” senior Sally Hett said. “Leaving them around for drunk, reckless people like myself is dangerous.”
Hett also said she believed it was a nice idea, but it was sad that people abused the free service and stole them.
Contact reporter Marta Quero at firstname.lastname@example.org