By Sydney Hakes
Spring has started, and with it comes one of the most popular programs available through the SUNY Plattsburgh recreation center. The bike rental program allows students to borrow a bike for a day free of charge.
Melissa LaMere is the director of recreation and assistant director of athletics and heads the bike program. She said on nice days, all the bikes are usually rented, making the bike program one of the most utilized on campus.
Bikes can be rented out from the second floor of Memorial Hall from 2 to 10 p.m. Monday through Friday, and noon to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Bikes need to be returned the same day within those hours. Late returns will be charged a $10 fee. Students will just need their IDs and to sign forms if it is their first time renting.
Although rentals are by the day, there is no limit to how many days a student can rent. LaMere said many of the same students rent regularly, whether for recreational use or as a main mode of transportation.
LaMere mentioned noticing a significant decrease in cars in the parking lots in the past few years. Considering the impact of COVID-19 on in-person attendance, she still believes there are less students with cars than any year prior to COVID.
Gail Recore, the parking manager for the University Police, provided statistics comparing the number of students with personal vehicles. Between March 2021 and March 2022, the number of students with a car increased from 1,432 to 1,725. However, this is still less than the average of 2,000 cars on campus pre-pandemic.
This could be related to many external factors besides COVID. The expensive car and gas market, more students coming from the city or potentially more students who may not want a car for environmental reasons.
There are currently 20 bikes available for students to use, five cruisers and 15 mountain bikes. There are also helmets and bike locks available. LaMere said that in a perfect world, they would have more bikes available to the students.
“I would love to see it grow, and I acknowledge that there’s an obvious demand for it,” LaMere said. “The main issue comes down to the size of our storage for the bikes and equipment.”
She said that the renovations going on in Memorial Hall, there will actually be a smaller bike room than they currently have. Extensive renovations to Memorial Hall has put need and attention on many programs and spaces outside of the bike program.
As an avid participant in the bike program, junior Jaherah Seales also said that he believes there is a need for more bikes.
“Biking is a great way to relieve stress while improving the value of your body,” Seales said. “As a kid in the south, biking was a way of bonding while seeing nature in its truest form. For me, biking helps me tackle my nostalgic moments while making new experiences with my friends.”
While Seales use is mostly recreational, LaMere said many students use the bikes to get to jobs or internships. It is a necessary means of transportation for many, especially in a town with limited public transportation.