The Share-a-Bull bike program at USF is facing a harsh and disappointing reality: College students cannot be trusted with nice things.
This semester, USF Outdoor Recreation introduced a new program to allow students and faculty to rent the bicycles and ride them across the university, free of charge. The bikes can be taken anywhere on campus, and they make the trek to class a breeze.
When the bikes were first introduced, students seemed to be excited and grateful for the easy and efficient transportation to which they would now have access.
That enthusiasm, however, failed to carry over to the upkeep and use of these bikes. Students have raced the bicycles, ridden them down stairwells, loaded them up with multiple riders, taken them off campus, refused to secure them to designated racks and attempted to steal them by breaking the internal
This utter lack of respect for USF and the free program has led to damage to the bikes that, this semester alone, has cost over $4,000 in parts. Currently, 30 of the 100 bikes are undergoing repairs. While those repairs are covered in the two-year operating budget originally approved as part of the Green Energy Fund grant for the program, they do not bode well for the future of the project.
Francis Morgan, assistant director of Outdoor Recreation said they are already considering what to do when the repair funds run out. If users continue to abuse the bikes, they will have to pay to use them.
We were gifted an amazing and completely free program that makes commuting on campus a cinch. How did we repay this kindness? By utterly ruining it in a matter of months. Students, we are not entitled to any of the amenities offered to us on campus. Grow up, and show some respect, or those services will be taken away from us.
It is obvious the program is something students adore. There are about 3,400 active users on the Social Bicycle app used to access bikes, with approximately 40 new members joining every day. Each bike is ridden around 20 times during the week and the demand has led the university to consider increasing to 200 bikes by the end of spring semester.
As of now, students and faculty can quickly and effortlessly rent a bike and travel across the entire Tampa campus, which spans 1,700 acres, for free. Thanks, however, to the foolishness of our peers, that will more than likely not be the case for much longer.
To those who can’t seem to understand what appropriate behavior looks like, here are a few pointers: Open the app on your phone and rent a bike; Walk over to said bike and unlock it for your journey; Climb on and begin to make your way to class.
But here is where it becomes tricky: As tempting as that stairwell may look, stick to the sidewalks; Once you get to class, lock it up and go get your education; If Suzy asks for a ride back to MSC, don’t put her on the back of the bike — Tell her to rent her own, it’s free.
And most importantly, don’t try to steal the bike you are already allowed to use whenever you want.
The fact that we have been able to utilize this program for free has been wonderful. But no one would criticize USF for removing this program after the insolent behavior demonstrated by students.
Breanne Williams is a junior majoring in mass communications.