In an effort to improve accessibility to its supply of free, rent able bicycles, City Cycles — a bicycle lending library for students and members of the Goergen Athletic Center — is in the process of launching a new website that will allow students to check the availability of bikes and reserve them online.
The City Cycles website, launched on Friday, Sept. 23, is currently working to improve several malfunctioning aspects of the site, which incited a series of aggrieved emails from students to the Students’ Association.
“I wouldn’t call it a final release launch,” SA president and senior Bradley Halpern said. “There were definitely bugs. It’s not a done deal.”
The goal for the site is to show an updated version of the different styles of bikes available for rental during any given time period. Students will be able to login with a NetID and password, take a bicycle safety quiz and agree to the program waiver. They can then make reservations for the desired time slot and bike, which are rented for 24-hour periods.
City Cycles, which is sponsored by the SA’s Projects & Services Committee, currently has 18 bikes in their rent able collection. All of them usually go out at least once every day, according to senior Rich Ashford, coordinator of City Cycles.
“Given the problems with the website, the best thing to do for a student who wants to rent a bike is to go directly to Goergen,” Halpern said. “If a student has any problems renting a bike, they should let us know. There is plenty of contact information on the website.”
City Cycles is a student entrepreneurial venture that was founded in 2004 by alumni Andrew Hall and Adam Baratz, who presented City Cycles at several national conferences as a model for university bicycle libraries.
The website will be a “major convenience” for students, Halpern said, adding that he thinks the site will improve students’ accessibility to bikes, education on biking and the reliability of bike rentals.
“The old website wasn’t very functional, and you couldn’t make reservations online,” Ashford said. “For people who live off-campus or in Southside, it is a problem to come all the way to campus to see if a bike is available.”
Despite the new website’s problems, Ashford is optimistic about the popularity of City Cycles and its future aspirations.
“We do plan to add more,” he said of the bike collection. “We are not at a lack for demand, but I think people do not realize how much demand there could be.”
The SA wants City Cycles to conduct a user and ridership survey to gauge demand and determine how beneficial the addition of five to ten bikes would be for the program.
SA Projects & Services committee chair Camila Fernandes declined to comment on the specifics of SA funding, but said that “we all agree that going from paper to website is an improvement — an improvement we are working on.”
The funding depends on students’ needs, she said, which are evolving as the website grows and improves.
“We are putting all our energy and efforts into this, and we really hope students realize that we need their feedback to make this website work better,” she said.
Ashford said he hopes that City Cycles can move their fleet from Goergen to an outdoor pavilion with racks near UR Parking in Fauver Stadium by next semester, giving them a “City Cycles area” with a “security presence” and hopefully “a ton more bikes,” he said.
Halpern said this idea was a topic of discussion, as are many of City Cycles’s future plans for success.
Ashford’s aspirations for improvement include uploading maps with bike routes to the website, creating a mobile application of the site, making it possible to pay late fees by credit card on the website, uploading tutorials about renting bikes and designating which bikes are out of service or need repair.
Buletti is a member of the class of 2013.