Without a car, UR can sometimes feel like a pretty isolated place. Bus routes can leave you as I recently discovered stuck at Wegmans hours after you’ve finished your shopping with nothing to do but wander the food aisles aimlessly. And don’t even try to take a school bus to a bar party downtown evidently it’s much too dangerous.

Facing this predicament of being stuck on campus, but having a few errands off campus that needed to be run, my friend Katie Bartolotta and I decided to try out an environmentally sustainable means of transporting ourselves: we rented bicycles from UR’s free bicycle lending library, City Cycles.

City Cycles is available to all UR undergraduate students between the months of September to November and April to May and is located right on campus at the Goergen Athletic Center. Bicycles, which are kept on a rack in Dandelion Square, can be checked out from the front desk for up to 24 hours. Currently the program has 17 bicycles and one tandem bicycle available for borrowing daily, which represent a number of expansions since the program was originally founded in 2004. Harrell Kirstein, one of two seniors currently in charge of the program through the Students’ Association, explained that City Cycles is expanding in order

to replace bikes that are lost or stolen throughout the year as well as keep up with the program’s growing popularity. The SA is also looking into the feasibility of collaborating with the Graduate Organizing Group in order to expand the program’s availability to graduate students.

Just to experience the pure novelty of it all, Katie and I decided to try the tandem bike otherwise known as a ‘bicycle built for two.” Unfortunately, we misjudged the ease with which we’d be able to synchronize our biking and spent a shaky morning being mocked by construction workers. Because of this, we did not make it very far only to Strong Memorial Hospital and CVS for some errands and then a quick ride through the cemetery. Still, even our treacherous experience with the tandem bike seemed to be a solid alternative to begging someone for a ride or walking to our various destinations.

Had we taken out more traditional, one-person bicycles we might have made it farther and we certainly would have had a plethora of bike paths to choose from. The city cycles Web site, http://sa.rochester.edu/citycycles/, gives links to a number of printable maps and directions for various trails and destinations, ranging from scenic routes along Lake Ontario to trips to the Public Market or even to the Eastman School of Music.

For students who have yet to explore the wonderful city of Rochester, these routes offer a way to independently get a sense of this University’s surroundings.

Kirstein noted, ‘[Some routes look] like something out of a catalogue… Even though the weather here sometimes sucks, it highlights parts of Rochester that students don’t always experience.”

My personal experience with City Cycles surprised me by demonstrating just how easily one can get off campus at least in the warm weather without the use of a bus or car. And apparently a great number of other UR students the program boasts about 700 users per year have figured that out, too.

The program has become extremely popular over the last few years; when we went to borrow bicycles, there were only a couple still available, and, according to sophomore Sarah Potter, who was working as a desk attendant, ‘It’s common that there aren’t any bikes available at all.”

It is evident that this is a program that should and probably will grow bigger as time goes on.
Besides the obvious benefits of giving students an easy and free way to get off campus and into the city of Rochester, City Cycles also presents an opportunity for a greater awareness to be spread about sustainable forms of transportation an important issue given the current energy crisis.

‘It’s something I think everyone here should try at least once,” Bartolotta said after our tandem biking adventure. ‘If nothing else, it’s a good way to get some exercise in.”

Healy is a member of the class of 2011.



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