Recent graduate Sara Russell ’19 has always loved bicycling.
“I’ve enjoyed it since the training wheels were removed from my Barbie bike,” she says with a laugh.
So, it’s no surprise that this passion continued when she came to the College of Charleston.
“Being from Charleston, I knew that biking was the best form of transportation on campus,” says Russell.
And when she learned about the Office of Sustainability’s Bike Share, Russell, who majored in biology, jumped at the chance to take her love of bicycling to the next level as an intern for the program.
Since the fall of 2013, the Bike Share program has provided the College community with a free and sustainable method of transportation. Originally developed by a student-led team, it is now available to all current students, faculty and staff.
“I want to see bike culture become the standard within the College and Charleston,” says Eliza Bower, Sustainable Transportation Program manager for the Office of Sustainability. “It’s a really great opportunity for Charleston.”
The growing program offers bikes for short-term and long-term use. Short-term checkouts last for up to 48 hours, while long-term checkouts can run for an entire semester. Different types of bicycles are available, depending on the time frame. All short-term bikes are beach cruisers, while long-term bikes come in a variety of styles. According to Bower, many of the bikes have been donated.
“We receive donated bikes all the time,” she says, adding “if we can’t use the bike, we can use the parts.”
The Office of Sustainability considers donated bikes road-ready after they undergo a series of repairs completed by interns.
“We have a robust internship program,” says Bower. “Our interns refurbish the bikes very thoroughly.”
But the parts aren’t just used for fixing other bikes, says Russell who is a former lead intern for the Bike Share program. She says the parts can be “upcycled” and used creatively, too.
“Something cool and interesting about Bike Share was making artwork out of the broken bike parts,” she says. “The Office of Sustainability stresses the idea of upcycling and divergence from landfills, so making sculptures like a bike wheel and chain chandelier, bike-part wind chimes and a bike wheel garden trellis, were all great ways of implementing those ideals.”
Russell also enjoyed interning for the program because she could help the College’s biking community with regular bicycle repairs.
“My favorite thing about interning for the Bike Share was the Pop-up Fix-It Clinics,” she says. “On Fridays, on CofC Farmers Market days, and during Sustainability Week, the Bike Share would set up a tent and table with necessary tools to assess and fix bicycles. This meant that all students, faculty and staff had a free outlet for bike diagnostics and repair. It also gave me an outlet to use my bike mechanic knowledge, while meeting interesting people from differing majors and walks of life.”
This semester, the Pop-Up Fix-It Clinic takes place every Friday from 10:30 am to 12:30 pm. on Cougar Mall. Members of the CofC community can get their bikes fixed and learn how to make repairs on their own. In the coming months, there will be three bike repair stations installed around campus, including Addlestone Library, Burnett’s Park and Cougar Mall. Signing up for the program is easy, simply visit the Bike Share website, fill out the online form and complete a short quiz. To donate a bicycle, contact Eliza Bower at email@example.com.