Students feeling trapped on campus during these warming spring days may find a sense of freedom through the Plattsburgh State recreation center.
Starting nearly two weeks ago, students are now able to rent mountain bikes seven days a week.
The program was started this semester but has been in the works since last summer when Jacqueline Vogl, assistant vice president for Global Education, reached out to Karen Waterbury concerning international students in the summer English program.
Vogl said she suggested a bike program in order to promote environmental awareness among students as well as to support independent mobility, as she noticed a lot of summer students needed assistance getting places a little farther than walking distance.
“The program encourages students to use bikes as a means of transport,” Vogl said. “It sparks the idea that bikes aren’t just toys for children, that they are an economical and environmentally sound way of getting around.”
Bikes will be available to students this summer but the program was started this semester as a way to pilot the program and to face and adjust to challenges that may occur.
Karen Waterbury took the position of associate director of recreation during the fall 2014 semester and has been working on the bike rental program since the summer before.
She started to explore what others were doing with similar programs.
Waterbury wrote a green grant, which is funded by the new campus green fee for ideas that the Campus Committee for Environmental Responsibility finds feasible, to propose the bike program around June 2014.
Through the grant, Waterbury was able to secure 10 mountain bikes for the program.
Waterbury stressed the importance of students being able to get off campus in times of stress and the effects getting out into nature has on mental health.
“What I like about mountain biking is your concentration level has to be with what you’re doing,” Waterbury said. “It really takes you away from school because you have to really focus on what you’re doing. I think it’s a really good stress relief and diversion from being a student.”
Vogl expressed concern over bike safety, saying that students may not always be conscious of their surroundings.
“It’s important to be attentive and responsible,” she said. “Students have to abide by traffic rules as if they were in a vehicle.”
To promote bike safety, each bike rental comes with a helmet and each bike is equipped with a flashing light in case students get stuck riding at night.
Bikes are available in different sizes according to height. There is one extra small bike, three small bikes, three medium and three large bikes.
The bikes are available for free daily rentals on the top floor of the Fitness Center Monday through Thursday from 3 to 11:30 p.m., Friday from 3 to 10 p.m., Saturday from 12:30 to 10 p.m. and Sunday from 1:30 to 10 p.m.
To rent a bike, students must show their school ID at the recreation center window and fill out the required forms, including a safety release form.
“The program is still a work in progress,” Waterbury said. “We’re nowhere near where we want to be, so we’ll be learning from this year.”
Email Tawnee Bradham at firstname.lastname@example.org