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WCU Bike Share Program works to reduce university’s annual carbon emissions

Maggie Mawson, Special to the Quad

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From all corners of campus you may have stumbled upon bike racks filled with identical white bicycles with ‘Zagster’ written across them. You may have wondered what the bikes were for, and who uses them. These bikes are actually there for anyone who is a student, faculty member, or staff member of West Chester University to use whenever they need. They are a part of a Bike Share program that is organized by the Sustainability Advisory Council (SAC) and supported by WCU. The Bike Share is designed to help students, faculty, and staff with transportation needs, as well as help the environment.

This idea came from West Chester University’s own Climate Action Plan written by WCU faculty and staff in 2003. The Climate Action Plan was written shortly after WCU became a signatory to the American College and University Presidents’ Climate Commitment (ACUPCC) in 2010 which states that WCU will work to become carbon neutral. This means that WCU will reduce its amount of greenhouse gas emissions, lowering its contribution to global climate change.

The WCU Climate Action Plan’s ultimate goal is to fulfill this commitment by 2025. This will be done by switching to primarily sustainable energy sources. Any carbon emissions that the university cannot eliminate by switching to a sustainable energy source (i.e., some of the lab buildings that require a lot of energy and emissions produced by commuters) will have to be offset in some way. The plan also has goals related to integrating sustainability more into education. In the future, this may include a zero waste program at new student orientation.

The ambitious goal of carbon neutrality has already been advanced greatly by shutting down the university’s coal burning central steam heating plant in 2014. This was completed after many of the university’s buildings were converted to geothermal energy. One of the next major steps toward carbon neutrality is to work on cutting down emissions from commuting. In a survey performed in 2010, out of all emissions that the university indirectly produces, faculty, staff, and student commuting make up 91 percent. The survey data compiled in the Climate Action Plan shows that staff and faculty drive about eight million miles to commute to and from campus annually, while students drive a staggering 21 million miles. Those are enough miles to travel back and forth from the moon 45 times!

This may be of little surprise when attempting to park in one of the many student and employee parking spaces to no avail. The university is known as a big commuter school because of its prime location. Parking has continued to become increasingly difficult with the growing number of new students. It has become more evident that alternative transportation methods need to be implemented. By starting up the Bike Share program, the university is not only providing affordable, shared bikes, but also encouraging biking as a method of alternative transportation for students, faculty and staff who need to traverse campus or make trips into the borough.

The Bike Share was officially initiated August of 2016 and has been steadily growing in active members since then. You can join in this sustainability initiative and enjoy the benefits of having affordable and readily available transportation by becoming a member of the Bike Share Program. In order to join, first download the Zagster app available for iOS and Android devices and then create a new account and enter your information. Make sure you select West Chester as your location and use your @wcupa.edu email address. You can choose to get a daily pass for $5 or an annual pass for $10. When the option to enter in a promo code comes up, make sure to type in “bikewcu.” This brings the annual fee down from $20 to $10.

Once you become a member, you are ready to go, and rides up to three hours are covered by your membership. To start a ride, first turn on bluetooth on your phone so the app can detect the bikes. Next, choose the location of the bike station you are at. There are three station locations; one next to Alleghany Hall, one in front of the Swope Music Building and one near the Sturzbecker Health Sciences Center on South Campus.

After identifying the station, you may chose your bike. The bike has a keypad on the back, as well as an identifier number. Once you have selected your bike and unlocked it, you may start your ride. An additional hour beyond each free three hour period costs $2, though you can take multiple trips per day for free. If you are out in town and decide to go into a store, there is an attached lock that you can use to secure the bike. When you are finished, you can return the bike at any of the three bike stations and lock it up. Make sure you go on the app and press “end my ride” after locking your bike at the station.

WCU Bike Share is an excellent resource that the university encourages all students, faculty and staff to take advantage of. It can be useful to those who need to go into town and either don’t have a car or do but don’t want to move it and lose their spot. It can also be great for traveling long distances on campus or just for exercise and visits to local parks. Participating in the Bike Share Program means not only making transportation easier for you, but also making it easier on the environment by not producing any carbon emissions from use.

Maggie Mawson is a fourth-year student majoring in biology: ecology and conservation with a minor in Spanish. She can be reached at [email protected]

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The Student News Service of West Chester University
WCU Bike Share Program works to reduce university’s annual carbon emissions