Thomas Yang | Assistant Visual Editor
It’s time to look both ways before you cross the bike lanes on campus, because Pitt first-years and resident assistants now have unlimited 30-minute bike ride access around Pittsburgh.
Through the Office of Sustainability, Pitt is partnering with the Healthy Ride bike share program in an attempt to expose first-year students to biking around Pittsburgh as a mode of transportation.
This partnership with Healthy Ride is a commendable start. But, in order for all students to reap the benefits of bike riding, Pitt should work to expand the program to the entire student body, not just first-year students and resident assistants.
Healthy Ride, operated by Pittsburgh Bike Share, originated in 2012 in an attempt to help “address urban challenges by reducing traffic congestion and carbon emissions, improving air quality, reducing vehicular collisions, improving public health and fitness, and reducing the overall cost of street maintenance,” according to their website.
Though Pitt does not currently have a definitive plan to expand the free bike rides to all undergraduate students, the Office of Sustainability will be monitoring bike usage throughout this school year in order to decide the future of the program.
“Early feedback indicates students are thrilled to have access to unlimited 30-minute rides, and we will be monitoring activation and usage to fully assess the future of this pilot program beyond Spring 2020,” Pitt Director of Sustainability Aurora Sharrard wrote in an email.
And since upperclassmen are typically more familiar with the City, and have to run more independent errands — like buying their own groceries — they would likely benefit from the allotted bike time even more than underclassmen.
Located all around the city, bike share stations are extremely accessible. At these stations, the borrower can either rent or return the bike they borrowed. Borrowed bikes can be returned to any station, not just the station where they were originally obtained, which gives students the ability to bike around Pittsburgh and return home on a bus if their time is running out.
This is an opportunity that all students could benefit from. For one, it makes exploring the City a much more interactive experience, versus riding on a crowded bus or staying on campus. Biking is also an enjoyable form of exercise, and an activity that helps keep the air cleaner — something that is a sore spot for Pittsburgh. Pitt should extend the bike program to upperclassmen regardless of its popularity with the first-year students, since it benefits everyone in different ways. Even a few more bikes out on the road benefit the City of Pittsburgh as a whole, whether it’s by increasing air quality or decreasing traffic congestion.
In the meantime, if you’re a first-year student, get out and use that bike. You’ll thank yourself in a few years when you’re an upperclassman.