Back to school

This somehow passed me by (although CBF did report on it): Saint Xavier University, on the southwest side, will launch a campus bike sharing scheme this fall.

“Over the summer, the University will install the SXU Green Bike Program, providing 65 European pedal bikes that can be automatically checked out 24 hours a day, seven days a week with a Cougar card and returned to any of several computerized docking stations around campus. The first 15 minutes between docking stations will be free, and patrons can use cell phone technology to more easily arrange for a bike.”

I’ll see how it works on an upcoming visit to London, where “OYBikes” are available throughout the west end. The procedure sounds a bit fiddly — check online for available bikes (stands only house three), push some buttons, call in, enter two randomly generated codes, tug on the lock — but the price is right (£10 initial deposit, first half-hour free, £8/day). One interesting bit: they’re shaft-driven (and thus chainless).

OYBike also sites bikes at many train stations run by French utilities group Veolia, which in turn has introduced its own sharing scheme.

Edit 1 October: the Sears Tower has started a free bike share scheme, with tenants reserving time online for three bikes — or two shared I-Go cars.

Edit 20 October: there are 75 campus bike-sharing/bike-lending programs nationally, according to the AASHE (protected link; Google cache here), but St. Xavier’s is the first such “smart” scheme. Most others rely on cheap student labor with manned check-out desks, which seriously impede spur-of-the-moment and short-trip use but which might be appropriate for occasional weekend use.)