Cycling and recycling come naturally to Alex Elkins, a senior technology education major and founder of SUNY Oswego Bike Share. He races mountain bikes on a national level, rides about 10,000 miles year-round and works in a Rochester bicycle shop, where he applies skills he needed to learn to afford racing.
"We're going to teach basic maintenance to borrowers. To those so inclined, we'll teach advanced maintenance," Elkins said. "That's a big part of sustainability, along with fitness and saving gas -- you can save a lot of money fixing your own bike."
Bike Share's headquarters are in the basement of Hewitt Union on campus, where students can apply for one of 15 bicycles the club currently has ready to go. With other two-wheelers scavenged for parts, Bike Share has received about 25 donations of used bicycles from the Oswego community, Elkins and his contacts in Rochester, University Police and other campus staff, and from roadside discards. Contact [email protected] to make a donation.
SUNY Oswego Bike Share has received assistance from the college's Facilities Design and Construction office. Graduate assistant Jason MacLeod recruited Elkins and has helped him launch the program, and campus sustainability coordinators Mike Lotito and Jamie Adams encouraged the program with new tools, repurposed space in Hewitt Union and other startup necessities. Adams and Lotito pointed out that vehicular traffic accounts for about a third of Oswego's contribution to greenhouse gases as a lot of people drive around campus, as well as to and from it.
"The bike-sharing program is right up there on our roadmap for strategically reducing the college's carbon footprint, and at the same time proving health and wellness on campus," Adams said. SUNY Oswego, through its Climate Action Plan and the American College and University Presidents' Climate Commitment, is pursuing strategies to reduce emissions up to 40 percent by 2020.
Elkins said Bike Share has built accountability into its program: statements of need, waivers, locks to go with each bicycle, encouragement to share the two-wheeler with others and, as experience and growth dictate, perhaps a deposit that includes a fee to help the program safeguard its investment and pay its way.
"I want to see people take responsibility for the bikes," he said.
Elkins, who will student teach in technology this fall, said he minors in sustainability and comes by his interest in cycling through his parents, who both ride and minimize driving.
"Bike Share is right on point with what I'm interested in," he said. "My passion is cycling and the outdoors. Why not share that in this way?"