There are some new wheels on campus, and they come attached to the new fleet of VeriFast Cycles, the first bicycles in a pilot bike-share program based out of Harvard’s undergraduate Houses. The program will officially be launched during Harvard’s Earth Day Celebration “Block Party” on Saturday (April 25), hosted by the Environmental Action Committee (EAC).
An initial fleet of eight John-Deere Green bicycles, complete with basket, lock, helmet, and the VeriFast logo, will hit the road this weekend. The bikes, made from salvaged and refurbished parts, will be split between River Houses and Quad Houses; four will be stored in Mather House, and four in Cabot House. Harvard undergraduates and undergraduate House affiliates can reserve and sign out a bike from the superintendent’s office in either House.
The bike-share program is the result of months of planning by the EAC, the undergraduate student environmental organization on campus. The program is financed through the Green Crimson Fund, a matching fund to encourage student-run campus education efforts and bring renewable energy to campus. Early this fall, after much debate and research, the members of the environmental student group settled on creating a bike-share program that they hope will serve as a visible, campus-wide reminder that the best way to make energy use more sustainable is to conserve fuel resources.
Katie Walter ’10, co-chair of the Harvard EAC, explains, “We think that bikes will not only be a highly visible expression of Harvard’s commitment to sustainability, but they will also improve student life on campus.” An EAC survey shows that 67.7 percent of undergrads do not have a bike, and 88.1 percent would use a bike-sharing program. “It is our hope that having bikes available to students now will encourage them to become bikers for life,” Walter adds.
EAC members were inspired by thriving bike-share programs in cities such as Barcelona and Paris, as well as on other college campuses. If successful, this pilot program will expand to other Houses and the freshman yard next year. The ultimate aim is to generate enthusiasm that might one day translate to a campuswide or citywide bike-share program.
Caitlin Rotman ’10 is a resident of Adams House.