Reduce, Reuse and Husky Re-cycle

in Local Sports/SCSU Sports/Sports by

Originally started by a local eagle scout to help benefit the Boys and Girls Club of Central Minnesota, SCSU’s Outdoor Endeavors has taken the concept of reduce, reuse, and Re-cycle to a whole other level.
Taken over the by university around 2005, the concept of a bike sharing program on the SCSU campus was modeled after the bike sharing programs in European countries, particularly in Scandinavia.
Using old bikes donated from the community, Outdoor Endeavors soon embarked on a project that would help students get around campus.
And while the program was started with good intentions, Coordinator for Experiential Programs for Outdoor Endeavors Ivan Bartha said multiple problems plagued the new bike sharing project called the Yellow Bike Program.
“We would start with about 25 to 30 bikes during the fall and the spring semesters,” Bartha said. “Each bike would be painted yellow. And they would be located near the residential halls and Q-lot.”
Funded independently of the university through grants and other awards, the Yellow Bike Program soon faced obstacles, particularly the disappearance of bikes.
“The problem was the bikes kept disappearing. It became a public relations and public safety problem,” Bartha said.
While the Yellow Bike Program was supposed to get students around campus, bikes kept going off campus, often to be left abandoned or stripped of parts. And with the cost of maintaining and replacing the bikes rising only to recover less than five bikes a semester, Bartha and Outdoor Endeavors made the decision to scrap the Yellow Bike Program in 2008.
However, in 2012, senior environmental technology students sought to re-vamp and kick start the program once more.
Under the guidance of Dr. Mitch Bender’s ETS 456 class, senior Evan Parkhouse, a student manager with Outdoor Endeavors saw a need for the program, and also the need for responsibility by the students to help keep the program going.
“We had to have more accountability by the students using them,” Bartha said.
Parkhouse, along with fellow classmates Kyle Schumm, Corey Cremers, Josh Voss, and Choul Tang, wanting to get as far away from the failed Yellow Bike Program decided to embark on a program to be called Husky Re-cycle.
“They painted the bikes red. And created bike racks out of old scrap bikes,” Bartha said.
Gearing the program primarily to international students, the Husky Re-cycle Program set up the rack outside of Lawrence Hall. But this time, not everyone would be able to just grab and go.
Bartha said each semester residents from Lawrence Hall would be populated into a pseudo D2L course. This course was designed to provide international students with a course on safety tips aligning with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
“This would be an educational tool. Once students completed the course they were given a helmet and could check out a key for a bike.”
Different from the Yellow Bike Program, the bikes were locked up and could only be used by students if they signed out a key for the lock.
“It was a great effort by us to throw this idea out,” Bartha said. “And it turned out to be a successful bike sharing program.”
During the first year, the 2012-2013 academic year, Bartha said the bikes were put out during the start of the school year and removed in October. Placed out again in April, the bikes remained through the end of finals week. Throughout this time, Bartha said the sign out data indicated more than 700 uses of these red bikes were made.
“We hit a lot of things with this. We hit sustainability with local folks donating their bikes. We touched on globalization,” Bartha said.
Having the support from residential life proved to be the key in helping maintain and sustain the program over the course of the year. Now in 2014, the Husky Re-cycle program is facing new challenges, funding.
With the cost of building another rack ranging between $800 and $900 and the average cost to maintain the bikes between $200 and $300, Bartha said Outdoor Endeavors has had to seriously evaluate the prospects of expanding or continuing the program due to budget cuts felt across the university.
Getting creative with their fundraising opportunities, Bartha said new this year, Outdoor Endeavors will be out selling bikes during move-in weekend.
“We have about 50 bikes to sell for move-in weekend ranging from $40 to $150,” Bartha said. And with the money raised through the fundraiser, Bartha said he and the rest of the Outdoor Endeavors crew will be able to keep the Husky Re-cycle program active on campus and to work toward a goal of creating a sustainable university.
“Here’s a sustainable program with a really neat life span,” Bartha said.
Using old bikes donated from the public, Bartha fixes up about a third of the bikes his crew hauls in and uses another third for parts to repair other bikes in their fleet.
“We have lots of bikes donated by the community. We don’t want to see bikes getting chucked. We use a lot of them for pieces,” Bartha said.
“We are using largely recycled parts. We have a whole inventory of scrap equipment.”
And if they need to get new parts, Bartha said they find parts that are deeply discounted. And these parts are available for all students since Outdoor Endeavors also offers bike repair services for the entire community.
“We should all be biking,” Bartha said. “Bike friendly communities are healthier and they create a whole culture that values fitness.”
Outdoor Endeavors’ Husky Re-cycle Program also offers 24 hour bike rentals for minimal costs for those interested.