By Abe Field
Just outside Templeton Campus Center and Tamarack lounge, a new bike rack housing 18 white cruiser bikes has been installed by a company called Zagster for a bike share program. LC already struggles financially this year, with poor retention rates and costly infrastructure upgrades looming, and does not need another failed program to take us down the wrong path. The bike share program is only the latest problem to grace campus. The bikes are not practical, safe or cost effective for any LC student.
It goes without saying that our school is difficult to access via public transportation. Trying to catch the Pioneer Express that only runs once per hour can seem daunting.
However, a bike share program will not help alleviate any of these issues. The possible destinations accessible by bicycle are limited to the small shopping center 1.6 miles from campus that is home to Market of Choice, Tryon Creek Bar & Grill, Subway, a Shell station and Nectar Cannabis. It is hard to think that a LC student with access to a meal plan would make the trek to Market of Choice for expensive wine and cheeses.
Other than the small selection of options in this shopping center, it is difficult to come up with any other possible destinations for someone riding a Zagster bike. Some administrators may think that the bikes would be useful for getting to Fred Meyer’s or down to Sellwood, but I doubt that many students will be willing to brave the bridge across I-5 or the long climb back up the hill after a hearty meal across the river.
One of the biggest flaws of the bike share program is that Zagster does not provide cyclists with helmets. In some states, it is illegal to ride a bike on a street without a helmet, so it is surprising that the program does not provide helmets. It is highly unlikely that a potential Zagster user just happens to be carrying a helmet when they come across the bikes.
Not only are the possible destinations limited and impractical, but the safety of these bikes and the routes a rider would take are also an issue. With a campus that is constantly slippery because of rain, it is unthinkable that the people who designed this program did not think of the safety implications of riding bikes in dangerous conditions.
In addition, the roads which students would be riding these bikes on have very little shoulder where cyclists are faced with battling traffic that is often busy and moving at around 35 miles per hour. Even experienced cyclists will find that biking on road with a small shoulder is harrowing, so an inexperienced biker will have to find other, more hilly routes.
On the other hand, one of the only places that students can safely ride bikes would be the bike trail that goes from the intersection of Terwilliger Road and SW Boones Ferry Road and runs parallel to Terwilliger as it goes through Tryon Creek State Park. However, this bike trail ends 1.8 miles away from Lake Oswego, making it another treacherous ride along slippery roads with speeding cars. While some students may be interested in riding bikes through the nature reserve, the best way to see Tryon is by taking the hiking trails deep into the forest.
Annual memberships cost $10, and the rental rate of $1 per hour is sure to attract customers. Although these prices are low, dedicated cyclists will find it much more worthwhile to buy their own bike instead of having to rent one every day. Cyclists will quickly discover that it is not practical or safe to ride these bikes around LC and through the surrounding neighborhoods.
It is unclear whether students will be able to take these bikes on the Pioneer Express in order to ride them around downtown. If students are interested in riding bikes downtown, they are better off renting the Nike bikes which have locking stations all around the city. It’s hard to see how the Zagster bike share benefits students.