Bike Share, the campus bike rental student service, reopened this month with new COVID-19 related safety protocols in place. The rental service joins the Food, Energy and Sustainability Team (FEAST) garden as the second student service open and available to students currently living on and near campus.
According to Bike Share’s general manager Anaiah Little-Diop (junior), it was an extensive process to reopen Bike Share after she was prompted to do so in a Diversity and Equity Board (DEB) meeting earlier this semester.
“It is something that took a long time to convince the administration but I really wanted to advocate for it,” Little-Diop said. “I didn’t give up so I am really happy that we now have this opportunity.”
In order to operate safely, Little-Diop said employees and riders will honor social distancing protocols by keeping equipment disinfected, wearing masks at all times, checking in on paper rather than digitally and having only one staff member on duty for rentals.
Bike Share can be of great assistance to students during this time, Little-Diop said, especially for students who do not have cars because biking can be more reliable than public transportation and less expensive than ride-sharing.
“We also can be a mental health resource because getting out and riding a bike genuinely feels good,” Little-Diop said.
Urban & Environmental Policy professor Seva Rodnyansky studies transportation. Rodnyansky said in addition to having mental health benefits, biking can also help the environment.
According to Rodnyansky, a bike is much better for the environment than motor vehicles because it does not release any emissions. Despite this, Rodnyansky also pointed out the possible downsides of biking, particularly in Los Angeles.
“If people are biking through polluted areas they might be breathing in things that are not so good for them,” Rodnyansky said. “Especially in LA the air quality is not great because of the topography, climate, as well as, the smog and wildfires.”
Nonetheless, Rodnyansky noticed that biking has still increased in popularity throughout the pandemic.
“People are going outside more and using public transportation less but some are driving more,” Rodnyansky said. “So generally speaking active transportation such as biking has gone up and fewer people are using rideshare because they don’t want to be around others.”
According to Zoë Spearman (senior), using Bike Share will help her commute around campus in an environmentally-friendly way.
“I am currently working at the Vantuna Research Group near Sycamore Glen and would love to be able to bike there,” Spearman said via email. “I plan on using Bike Share instead of driving because it is good exercise and it emits less pollution into the air.”
Spearman said she also plans to use Bike Share for errands.
“I also am often traveling short distances because most of what I need I can acquire locally,” Spearman said via email. “I like to bike when I can because driving creates more wear and tear on public roads and more congestion in the LA area.”
Spearman said Bike Share’s reopening is exciting for her.
“I am so thankful that Bike Share is finally reopening! I have missed the service and am excited to see how it will function during this remote semester,” Spearman said via email.
Linda Schraeder, the Associated Students of Occidental College (ASOC) finance manager and advisor to Bike Share, said that with the college’s operations and pandemic response changing on a daily basis, the college was unsure whether or not Bike Share could reopen.
“Finally, when students came onto campus and the dust kind of settled as restrictions were being lifted in LA the reopening started to be discussed more,” Schraeder said.
According to Schraeder, the college remains committed to the well-being of everyone in the community as Bike Share reopens.
“The college is looking at the best interest of students and what can be done safely,” Schraeder said. “We are trying to offer as much as we can.”
Schraeder said the success of Bike Share now will help determine what can reopen in the future.
“Our circumstances can change again as we approach winter and I think the reopening is kind of a trial and error,” Schraeder said. “So hopefully we have a good run and we will see what happens.”