Expansion of Wildcat Wheels Bicycle Fleet Encourages Resident Students to Opt Out of Vehicles
LEXINGTON, Ky. (Feb. 24, 2014) – In October 2014, the University of Kentucky’s Wildcat Wheels Bicycle Library (WWBL) will celebrate a decade of providing free bicycle sharing and repair to the campus community. Since its launch in 2004, the WWBL fleet has grown from 17 bicycles to 125 bicycles. During the 2014-2015 academic year, the bicycle library will nearly double its capacity by launching a program aimed at encouraging students who live in residence halls to leave their motor vehicles behind when they come to Lexington.
The new Wildcat Wheels program will feature a fleet of 100 bicycles earmarked for students living in campus housing who sign a commitment not to bring a car to Lexington. The bicycles for this program will be 8-speed commuter bicycles equipped with fenders, a rear rack, a bell, and a lock. Participating students will be guaranteed the bicycle for the entire academic year, with the requirement that they attend a hands-on safety training course. The addition of the new bicycles was made possible by a funding partnership between the Student Sustainability Council (SSC) and Parking and Transportation Services (PTS). All participants will also receive a bicycle helmet, thanks to the UK HealthCare Level I Trauma Program.
Shane Tedder, UK sustainability coordinator, is enthusiastic about the new bike fleet and its impact on students' sustainability habits. He said, “I think the combination of a high quality commuter bicycle, mandatory safety training and free repairs will provide students with a very positive introduction to cycling as a mode of transportation that will hopefully stay with them through their time at UK and beyond.”
Wildcat Wheels is turning to the UK community to help with naming this innovative program and a naming competition is now underway. Submissions will be accepted through Wednesday, March 5, 2014 at www.sustainability.uky.edu/NameTheFleet. A committee will narrow the submissions to three finalists, and online voting on the winning name will take place March 7-14, 2014. Only current UK students and employees will be permitted to submit names for consideration. Those who submitted the top three names will all receive a goody bag of UK Bicycling swag; in addition, the winner will receive a free bicycle tune-up from WWBL.
Director of Parking and Transportation Services Lance Broeking said, “Residential students will be able to access campus and explore Lexington even when they decide to keep their bicycle parked. The University of Kentucky has a robust and growing alternative transportation network, which includes CATS buses, the Ride Home Express and car sharing. With service extending beyond campus, the Cats Cab, Lextran and the Colt Trolley round out the many car-free options readily available.”
The decision to limit the program to residential students was made primarily due to proximity to the alternative transportation network – including bicycle lanes, car sharing and campus and city buses, making a car-free commitment more convenient. Online registration for the program will begin in March and continue through the end of July. If more than 100 students register for the program, bicycle recipients will be chosen through a lottery process. In the event a student selected through the lottery has already purchased a parking permit, they will be able to return the permit for a full refund, provided they do so before classes begin. If a student in the program decides they need a motor vehicle in Lexington, they must return the bicycle in order to be eligible for a UK parking permit.
"The Student Sustainability Council's decision to fund the Wildcat Wheels expansion was unanimous. Students on the Council were excited to once again partner with Wildcat Wheels and PTS in encouraging sustainable transportation on campus,” said Will Martin, SSC development director and UK graduate student. “This is the kind of project the SSC was designed to support. It directly involves students in creating a more sustainable future for UK. Each student who chooses a bike over a parking pass is essentially voting for a more pedestrian-friendly campus."
Wildcat Wheels, which was founded on the concept of recycling abandoned bicycles and giving them a second lease on life, started in 2004, and in 2006, expanded to include an on-campus repair shop. To date, Wildcat Wheels has served more than 1,000 UK students and employees in its 10 years of existence. The program is a student-run service coordinated by the Office of Sustainability and funded by Parking and Transportation Services and the Student Sustainability Council. The bicycle library includes four distinct fleets: departmental bicycles, residence hall bicycles, bicycles available for weekly check-out and bicycles available for semester-long check-out. In recent years, the demand for the semester-long check-outs has grown, necessitating a lottery selection process to determine the recipients of those bicycles.
To learn more about Wildcat Wheels, please visit www.wildcatwheels.org. To learn more about bicycling on campus, visit www.uky.edu/pts/alternative-transportation_bicycle-information.
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