Students ride bikes around USF campus every day. More and more, though, people are riding the same type of bike—the Share-A-Bull bike. These green cruisers can be seen all over campus as a partnership between Campus Recreation and the Social Bicycle program.
Despite being one of the most used Social Bicycle systems in the world, the program is still hitting some bumps.
The program has faced challenges with students misusing the bikes or not locking them up in the proper place. Some of the reported issues include more than one student riding the bike at a time, taking them down stairwells and placing the bikes in repair mode when they don’t need repairs.
In response to these issues, students have started to take matters into their own hands. The program has been receiving pictures of students misusing the bikes.
“We get two or three emails a day of people taking pictures,” said Francis Morgan, assistant director of outdoor recreation. “Either of people not riding it properly or not locking it to a bike rack or whatever, because people want the bikes to be available so they’re doing whatever they can to make [the program] successful.”
Campus Recreation is also doing its best to keep the bikes available for students.
Additional mechanics are being hired to keep up with the demand of repairs with approximately 30 of the 100 bikes currently in the repair shop.
“People love [the program] and so that’s great, but the downfall is the bikes get all this use and so that’s part of the daily wear and tear,” Morgan said. “Some of the repairs are just because things wear out because they’re getting used more than any bikes in the world are.”
Of the 37 Social Bicycle systems in the world, Share-A-Bull bikes is the most popular. Data from Campus Recreation shows that USF’s bikes are used for an average of 12 rides per day, while bikes in the next highest-used Social Bicycle system are taken on less than one ride per day.
“We couldn’t have anticipated this, nobody could have anticipated, you know, 12 rides per bike,” Morgan said.
Even students who have never used the Share-A-Bull bikes program are excited for the opportunity to have a bike available if necessary.
Justice Rodriguez, a sophomore majoring in dance, said, “I appreciate that [the bikes] are there if I need one.”
Share-A-Bull bikes are a great addition to the services offered by Campus Recreation. There are also plans to expand the rental bike program with week, month, and semester-long rentals.
“We are also transforming the other bikes that we own; we are going to make them a rental system versus a free system. So we are upgrading those bikes and by August we will have a fleet of really decent bikes that will be rentable,” Morgan said.
For now, Campus Recreation plans to keep the program at 100 bikes.
“We’ve had them for just about six months now so we…want to operate them through at least fall term before we decide if we want to expand the [Share-A-Bull bikes] program,” Morgan said.