Augustana Observer

Augustana Observer

Augustana Observer

December 9, 2023

Global Affect’s Vike Bikes gain momentum

The hills and endless stairs at Augustana can be exhausting—and when students do not have access to a car, getting across campus can seem like an infinite trek. This is why Vike Bikes, a free rental bike service for students started through the Global Affect organization, has implemented a system where students can not only help reduce harmful gas emissions but also get to a destination much faster than walking.
There are currently three bicycles stored in a shed behind Olin. Students can give their name and number at the Olin desk, receive keys for the individual locker and bike and rent a bike for up to 24 hours.
The idea for Vike Bikes was created four years ago by Elizabeth Fisher, who graduated from Augustana last year.
“A lot of people don’t have cars, and buses aren’t the greatest way to get around, so I researched what other schools do,” she said. “Since Augustana is so small, we went with just a few bikes rather than get a company or use the administration.”
Vike Bikes took about four years to finally get up and running. Fisher came up with the idea for a free bike service during her first year at Augustana and pushed to get it started before she graduated.
“Part of what took so long was that we had to find proper shelter, look up the safety of having the bikes, get the approval of the campus, aesthetics, raise money, the installation process, make sure the bikes were in good shape,” said Laura Hartman, religion professor and faculty advisor for Global Affect.
Vike Bikes was finally created in April of 2013, during Earth Week, although the amount of students using the bike system has become more popular this year.
Fisher said the benefit of Vike Bikes is that they are “good for students who don’t have bikes, especially foreign students, and for students who can’t afford one.” Rather than using cars to go off and on campus, Vike Bikes offers students an alternate option that is free and environmentally friendly.
Transportation currently emits about one-third of greenhouse gas emissions, and because of this Hartman encourages people to drive cars less.
“Bike-riding is something we felt needed to be better promoted on campus,” Hartman said.
Junior Emily Haskins, president of Global Affect, was not interested in biking before college. She now wants to urge students to ride bikes instead of driving.
“I’ve been pretty privileged my whole life and had access to cars,” she said. “But a lot of people even in the United States don’t have cars and need to rely on public transi, or a bike, so it’s interesting to me just to think about that and try to limit my use of driving as much as I can.”
For the future, Haskins is looking into providing more bikes for students to use. There have been four bikes donated to her, which she hopes to fix up in order to have seven bikes instead of just three.
Haskins is also looking to organize a 5K-bike race in October around Augustana to raise awareness about Vike Bikes and might sell t-shirts at the event.
“If we make a profit from the shirts we might possibly buy a bike and give it to a student at Longfellow or another student in the area,” she said.
Haskins stresses the importance of recognizing environmentally friendly alternatives for transportation, since cars use fossil fuels which affect the climate.
“Even if politically you don’t think humans are causing climate change, it’s pretty undeniable we’re running out of oil,” Haskins said. “So we need to be thinking about other ways that we can get around than just driving. And biking, I think, is one of the best ways you can do that.”

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Global Affect’s Vike Bikes gain momentum