Pitt offers on-campus students free Healthy Rides through April


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Pitt has extended its free 30-minute-ride HealthyRide program from only first years to students still living in on-campus housing through the end of April.

By Elise Roessner, Staff Writer

With Port Authority bus schedules reduced and the number of riders per bus limited, students remaining on campus during the coronavirus pandemic are lacking in public transportation options. 

In an effort to combat this problem and ensure students stay healthy in the midst of the global coronavirus pandemic, Pitt extended free 30-minute rides through Healthy Ride, the Pittsburgh bike-sharing service, to students living in on-campus housing only. Previously only offered to first-year students, the free rides are available through the end of April.

Aurora Sharrard, Pitt’s director of sustainability, said students can access rides using codes from a digital flyer sent to on-campus students in an email. Students can take advantage of as many rides as they want through the end of the spring semester.

Several Healthy Ride stations are located directly on campus, including at the corner of O’Hara Street and University Place, on Fifth Avenue outside Alumni Hall and outside of Hillman Library. There is also an interactive map available on the Healthy Ride’s website that lists all locations in Pittsburgh, as well as how many bikes are currently available at each station.

Sharrard added that the bikes provide a transportation method more suitable to social distancing than traditional public transit options, as well as more flexible now that Port Authority buses are operating on reduced schedules.

“Hopefully in this time of social distancing, students living on campus who might have limited transportation options and may not want to get on shared transportation will consider using Healthy Ride bike sharing to get to where they need to go,” Sharrard said.

According to Healthy Ride’s website, bikes are sanitized weekly, but the company still suggests riders wash their hands before and after riding and stay at least 6 feet from other riders.

Anaïs Peterson, a senior English writing and urban studies double major, worked with Pitt Sustainability to partner with Healthy Ride to offer free bike rides as part of the new first-year sustainability gift offered in fall 2019. Peterson said the extension provides a good way for students to leave the dorms and spend time outside safely.

“The Healthy Ride extension is a wonderful opportunity for students in Oakland to allow them agency and the ability to travel and exercise without having to worry about public transit,” Peterson said.

Since the bike rides were originally only offered to first-year students, and most have moved out of their dorms, Sharrard said there were a lot of rides going unused.

“We realized that we had this benefit that people weren’t able to take full advantage of and so we extended it to all students still left on campus,” Sharrard said.

Peterson said she hopes this extension will inspire more students to begin to use bikes to get around the City, even after the University resumes in-person instruction.

I think bikes are a great option for transportation regardless of whether a global pandemic is happening and I think everyone at Pitt should consider utilizing them as more than just a type of exercise or a fun activity,” Peterson said.