Olin is a unique community, and as such, it has unique opportunities and resources, including Olin’s GO bike program. Very few other colleges trust their students enough to have bikes that students can just take out and ride, and I immensely appreciate the easy access I have to GO bikes at Olin. My appreciation for the GO bikes led me to become involved in the program, and I’d like to share with you some of my thoughts. Recently, due to increasing concern about the use and treatment of the GO bikes, CORe has proposed some changes for the program.
It was announced last week in the CORe digest that GO was working with CORe to develop a new system for GO bikes that would possibly involve either a prox check out system for the bikes or training sessions for new riders. This change is due to the sad fact that I have noticed while working with GO bikes over the past year: they are not only highly used but also highly abused. Typically, in just one week, at least one bike will be damaged in some way or another, often a popped tire or a problem with the chain. These problems are repairable, but inconvenient.
However, bikes have also been disappearing without warning, which is more difficult to deal with. In the past year, at least 4 of the bikes we had specifically labeled and given lights to have disappeared, not to mention several others whose disappearance was less noticeable because they were not numbered. As far as we can tell, people likely take the bikes out, get rides back, and forget about their bikes, which causes them to be lost and abandoned. The declining number of bikes is extremely annoying for those, including myself, who use them to get to class or to get to the store. Bikes are not the only things that vanish; oftentimes, GO locks suffer the same fate. The possibility of a prox system is designed to combat the disappearing bike problem. If you remember that you took a bike out, or if GO knows who took the bike out, then it is much easier to either locate a lost bike or get compensation for a new one.
The proposed training sessions would combat a different problem – that of bike safety and maintenance. GO wants to make sure that riders know how to deal with small problems that may arise while riders are on the road, as well as the basics such as how to shift gears on different bikes and how to adjust the bike seats to be a safe and comfortable height. The goal of the idea is not to require people to engage in a worthless activity that they don’t want to do or to make it seem like the GO bikes are less easily accessible, but rather to help everyone get the most out of GO bike use.
Overall, I sincerely hope that GO bikes continue to be a resource for Olin students, and that the changes we instill will assist in maintaining the fleet and the happiness of those that use it.