At Allegheny College, students can take part in the Allegheny College Bike Share program for practical transportation purposes or for sport as the weather warms and outdoor activities become more feasible.
The Bike Share fleet is a collection of donated bikes held at Pelletier Library that anyone with an Allegheny College ID can rent for free whenever they want, according to Bennett Gould, ’17, the president of the Allegheny Bike Share for the 2017 spring semester.
“A lot of the mechanics are into the sport. … Yet the primary goal that we have is the Bike Share fleet,” Gould said.
The mechanics are a team of students at Allegheny who open up the bike shop they maintain at the “Green Living” house on Loomis Street every Tuesday evening from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m.
Gould said that when the bike shop opens up every Tuesday, students can stop by to get help from the mechanics in order to learn how to maintain their bikes or to fix problems they are having. The shop offers necessary tools for repair and a plethora of supplies for purchase if necessary. The mechanics at the shop also welcome students looking for advice on biking and those who simply want to enjoy the atmosphere of the shop.
Outside of the shop, mechanics and other riders at Allegheny College enjoy taking their bikes on trails in the surrounding area at locations such as Shady Brook Park or Woodcock Lake Park. Although further away, students also have multiple state parks to choose from, such as Maurice K. Goddard State Park and Presque Isle State Park, both offering scenic trails to enjoy, according to mechanic Akeem Adesiji, ’20.
In terms of the sport, organizers of the share also focus on integrating bike riding into the community. The Bike Share holds community bike rides mainly in partnership with Allegheny College’s Outing Club, which entails students taking a group bike ride on either their own bikes or rented ones from the bike fleet. In addition, Adesiji said the organization’s two blender bikes — a blender attached to a bike — took a recent trip to a local elementary school to take part in a healthy eating event.
Many students ride bikes for fun or as a way to get a chance to exercise in their free time. Other than leisure, biking can be used as an alternative mode of transportation, something the Bike Share at Allegheny College greatly encourages, as long as the weather permits. Students can rent bikes from the fleet for free and have them out for a week at a time, and there are no limits to how many times they can renew a rental.
“It serves as a free and convenient method of transportation for students who need to run errands or just want to explore the town of Meadville,” Adesiji said.
The warm weather rarely fails to draw the bikes out of the library, and sometimes the demand for bikes exceeds the capacity, according to Gould.
“We’ve always got the goal to keep growing the fleet [to] meet the demand that is there,” Gould said.
“This year we had around 15 fleet bikes and next year we want to increase the amount of bikes we have in the fleet by at least five,” said incoming Allegheny Bike Share President Trevor Northrop, ’18.
Northrop sees room for growth in the biking community as it is fairly easy to bike around downtown Meadville, something that continues to inspire the Bike Share in their pursuit to make more bikes available to Allegheny students.
However, the Bike Share’s ambitions are not limited to increasing the amount of bikes in the fleet available in the library. As of early April, the Bike Share finished a project that entailed them setting up a free public repair station where tools are available to work on bikes at all times.
“I think there’s a lot of initiative among the incoming board and other mechanics to increase our presence in terms of group rides and collaborating with other organizations, such as the Outing club, and work on more of the community building side of things,” Gould said.
Overall, the Bike Share at Allegheny College will continue to grow and spread awareness of the sport of biking and the transportation it offers students. A stop at the library can provide a student with an opportunity to exercise or save some money on gas.