Campus in need of bike rental program

David Delgado//The Daily Cougar

David Delgado//The Daily Cougar

You wouldn’t really consider Houston to be a bike-friendly city, with its aggressive traffic, but earlier this year, Houston became one of 14 cities to start the B-Cycle program.

According to Florian Martin from KUHF News, there was hesitation for Houston to start using B-Cycle, as it could seem unrealistic for the program to flourish in a downtown geared to the businessman.

However, Martin wrote, “the model turned out to be quite successful. So successful that the program has now been expanded to 21 stations with 175 bikes from the initial three locations with a total of 18 bikes.”

Houstonians are enjoying this new program that promotes a pollution-free and healthy way to travel around the downtown area. The only obstacle that will bring hesitation to the minds of many Houstonians is the fact that Houston doesn’t have a law that requires drivers and bicyclists to share the same road.

The B-Cycle program can be seen as a catalyst to change the driving laws in Houston in order to keep cyclists safe.

The one place where a program like B-Cycle would be beneficial would be here on our Cougar campus.

Many times we’ve been late to class, on the verge of losing attendance points on our final grade and just wishing we could hitch a ride one of those golf carts riding around campus.

Or seeing the ever-so-popular student who always rode a unicycle to class, likely always making it on time. I know for a fact that if a bike rental program were accessible on campus, I would definitely use it to get to class on time.

Mechanical engineering junior Jaison Thomas is enthusiastic about a bike rental program on campus.

“Lots of students park quite far away from campus. Bike rental would definitely benefit them. Getting around the campus would be a lot quicker on two wheels,” Thomas said.

Since UH is a commuter school, there are numerous parking lots spread all around the vicinity of campus, with students often parking as far as Energy Research Park. A student would have an easier time making it to class on time on a bike rather than waiting for a shuttle that is often packed with students.

Organizational leadership and supervision junior Khyl Pena works downtown for a major finance company and sees the B-Cycle program in use every day.

“Houston does not have a very bike friendly city scene,” Pena said. “As someone who works downtown, I see the current rental stations for bikes, but I don’t see as many people using them. Also, driving downtown, I don’t see many people on bikes, but when I do, it’s very difficult to navigate around them, and they usually cause traffic slowdowns.”

But Pena has used a similar program while visiting the University of Tampa in Florida. “I remember the program at Tampa’s university being pretty useful when it came to getting around campus,” he said.

Thomas and Pena share the concern of student cyclists’ safety while navigating around UH campus, since many student commuters have been known to drive aggressively while searching for a parking spot.

Psychology junior Katia Carmona, a student cyclist, said, “It’s dangerous cycling around UH and even on campus, because pedestrian students are not very mindful of sharing the sidewalk. A lot of them just look down on their phones and don’t even pay attention.”

A program like B-Cycle would be successful on campus, but the transition could be difficult.

UH would have to improve the sidewalk, educate students about sharing the sidewalk, create bicycle lanes and enable the UH Police Department to enforce bike safety around campus and prevent theft of the bicycles.

Opinion columnist Catalina Campos is an English literature senior and may be reached at [email protected]

1 Comment

  • Your statement regarding laws requiring bikes and automobiles to share the same space is false. It is both a state law and city ordinance that cyclists use roads, NOT sidewalks, when riding. Additionally, there is an ordinance that requires that vehicles of all types give a three foot berth to cyclists when passing. True, Houston isn’t a cyclist friendly city, but that is due to poor infrastructure design and YOU, the car driver.

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