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New Bike-Sharing Program Ready to Roll This Fall Semester

Posted Aug, 25, 2010

Kent State University’s Department of Recreational Services, in collaboration with the university’s Division of Enrollment Management and Student Affairs, the Office of the Provost and Undergraduate Student Government, is pleased to announce the creation of a new bike-sharing initiative called Flashfleet. The program will provide Kent State students, faculty and staff with a new form of transportation and recreation throughout the campus.

Photo of Flashfleet bikes, Kent State students and Provost“I am pleased to support this important initiative," said Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs Robert Frank. "It speaks to multiple needs and desires of the Kent State community: a need for sustainability, fuel savings, physical activity and a simple system for providing ‘green’ transportation to get around our expansive campus.”

Scheduled to start operation on Aug. 30, coinciding with the start of the fall semester, Flashfleet will be available at the following locations: Student Recreation and Wellness Center, Kent Student Center, Dunbar Hall Area Desk, Twin Towers Area Desk, Tri-Towers Area Desk and the Stopher Hall Area Desk. Users will be able to borrow bikes, helmets and locks on a daily basis from 8 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. All equipment must be returned to its point of origin before closing.

The program is tentatively scheduled to operate until Oct. 31, depending on weather. It will reopen in the spring after the last of the winter storms.

“Bike sharing is a unique concept that enables multiple users to borrow bikes for short-term use,” said Kim Rufra, associate director of the Department of Recreational Services at Kent State. “Our mission is to provide affordable, easily accessible and environmentally sustainable transportation to Kent State University.”

By affordable, Rufra means free. Students, faculty and staff simply need to visit one of six designated locations on campus to sign out a bike using their FLASHcard. Fees are only assessed if equipment is returned late, damaged or not at all. Guests, with a valid driver’s license, are also allowed to participate in the program as long as a student or staff member assumes liability.

Flashfleet, a second-generation bike-share system, was developed from concerns over rising fuel costs, traffic congestion across campus, consistent enrollment increases each semester, physical fitness and a greater consciousness about climate change.

“The program is modeled after a similar second-generation program at Washington State University,” said Melanie Knowles, the university’s sustainability manager. “Washington State has now adopted a third-generation bike-sharing program, complete with self-contained, solar-powered kiosks that allow users to check-in and check-out bikes from any location.”

Knowles noted that Flashfleet is a pilot program. The success of this year and the research collected will be used in determining whether a third-generation system also would be suitable at Kent State. Knowles, along with Dr. David Kaplan, a geography professor at the university, acquired a $25,000 grant to study the impact of bike sharing.

Support for the project has been widespread. With the assistance of the Department of Residence Services and the Kent Student Center, the Department of Recreational Services is able to provide convenient campus locations to students. Furthermore, Kent State’s Office of Sustainability has provided valuable insight into the creation of the pilot program and will be monitoring trends and the success of Flashfleet throughout the year. The 50 bikes being used for the program, all Trek 7000 Hybrids, will be maintained on a weekly basis by the Department of Recreational Services’ equipment manager and registered with Kent State University Police Services.

“We’re also looking to create a more dynamic bike culture throughout Kent State,” Rufra said. “Currently, there are more than 100 bike racks across campus for students to use. Not only do users have easy access here, but they can use our bicycles and visit downtown businesses and other locations in the Kent area.”

All riders will receive a brochure with biking safety tips, rules and regulations for the program and a map detailing local bike trails in the area. To further encourage riders, the Department of Recreational Services is implementing a contest during which one lucky winner will receive their very own Trek 7000 Hybrid Bike on Earth Day, Apr. 22, 2011. All those who participate in the program will be entered into the contest.

The Department of Recreational Services at Kent State is proud to provide the students, faculty and staff of Kent State University and members of the surrounding community with outstanding recreational, fitness and wellness opportunities. For more information about Flashfleet, please call the Department of Recreational Services at 330-672-2REC, visit www.kent.edu/flashfleet or e-mail flash_fleet@kent.edu.

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Photo Caption:
Kent State University Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs Robert Frank stands with students and bicycles belonging to the Flashfleet bike-sharing initiative.

Media Contacts:
Kim Rufra, krufra@kent.edu, 330-672-0464
Melanie Knowles, mknowle1@kent.edu, 330-672-8039
Jason Hawk, jphawk@kent.edu, 330-672-0465