Students Seek Two-Wheeled Solution to Economic, Environmental Crises

Thursday, September 25, 2008

PHILADELPHIA (September 25, 2008) – The cost of gas, which continues to hover above $3.50, has sparked national interest in alternative fuels and modes of transportation. College students, in particular, are beginning to look for ways to avoid the economic and environmental impact of driving every day.

A group of Saint Joseph's University students are starting a bike co-op program to encourage the campus community to embrace convenient, exercise-friendly, carbon-free transportation. The program, tentatively called simply the SJU Bike Co-op, ultimately aims to build a pool of bikes that students, faculty and staff can share when automotive travel isn't absolutely necessary.

"The addition of the Maguire Campus – 38 new acres ­– makes Saint Joseph's a big campus, and it can be tough to get from one side to another," said sophomore Julian Phillips, a psychology and fine arts double major and one of the founders of the initiative. "Biking makes it really easy to get around."

Cycling enthusiasts have collaborated with Get Ready for Environmental Education Now Conserve Our Wildlife (G.R.E.E.N. C.O.W.), the campus environmental protection group, to form a bike co-op. Sophomore Kyle Konopka, president of G.R.E.E.N. C.O.W., said that an increase in bike usage could do wonders to reduce the University's carbon footprint.

"We have so many students living just a few miles off campus, in West Philadelphia and Manayunk," Konopka said. "Imagine the reduction in emissions we would see if they all biked to school every day."

When the program officially launches next spring, the students will offer bike maintenance workshops, off-campus cycling trips and other activities. Their focus this semester is on soliciting donations for the communal fleet, which will be locked around campus until someone borrows a key from the coop program. The founders are also working with the University Student Senate to ensure the campus is ready to foster a more bike-friendly environment.

"There are only a few bike racks near some dorms and academic buildings; if the program is going to be successful, we're going to need more," said sophomore Amy Sands. "The senate has been very helpful, but in addition to getting donations of bikes, we'll also need racks to house them."

Beyond the economic and environmental impact of putting more bikes in campus, the students say that their love for cycling is steering the project. "There's so much to love about bikes," Konopka said. "They're good exercise, good for the environment, and can be good for traffic. Besides, they're fun. I feel like a five-year-old again. I imagine a world where bikers, motorists, and pedestrians all get along."

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